Business

Citigroup to Buy Wachovia Banking Operations

Citigroup agreed Monday to purchase Wachovia's banking operations for $2.1 billion in a deal arranged by federal regulators, making the Charlotte-based bank the latest casualty of the widening global financial crisis.The deal greatly expands Citigroup's retail franchise _ giving it a total of more than 4,300 U.S. branches and $600 billion in deposits _ and secures its place among the U.S. banking industry's Big Three, along with Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.But it comes at a cost: Citigroup Inc. said it will slash its quarterly dividend in half to 16 cents. It also will dilute existing shareholders by selling $10 billion in common stock to shore up its capital position.In addition to assuming $53 billion worth of debt, Citigroup will absorb up to $42 billion of losses from Wachovia's $312 billion loan portfolio, with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. agreeing to cover any remaining losses. Citigroup also will issue $12 billion in preferred stock and warrants...

Travel: Try Grouse Hunting in Britain

Britain's grouse-hunting season is in full swing until mid October. The British sporting company Roxtons offers bespoke driving and walking shoots in Scotland and northern England, charging $218 per brace of birds (roxtons.com). In Yorkshire, the Black Swan Hotel is an ideal base for a shooting weekend. With divine rooms, a gourmet restaurant and an Elemis spa, it's a fine place to relax after a day spent tracking red grouse or the lesser-known ptarmigan (blackswan-helmsley.co.uk; rooms start at $180).But nothing beats Scotland. At the Roxburghe, an agricultural and sporting estate, the head gamekeeper will take guests out for a spot of shooting, with lunch provided in a rustic cabin. The estate also houses the largest inhabited castle in Scotland, a golf course and a luxury hotel (roxburghe.net; rooms start at $340). The Atholl Estates Lodges offer a robust stock of birds across the moors, which are best walked with guides; guests can bring their own dogs if they are gun-trained ...

A New Platform for Women's Shoes

Last season, heels on women's shoes took on innovative shapes, including chain links, flowers and spheres. Now designers are giving wedges and platforms a makeover. Towering at nearly four inches high, Louis Vuitton's Powder shoe, in calf suede, features carved resin soles to match the architectural bent of the brand's fall collection. The unusual two-tiered toe is complemented by a faux stiletto heel ($1,130; louisvuitton.com). Alberta Ferretti's sculptured wedges also have a strong architectural feel, with the toe turning up like a boat ready to sail ($450; net-a-porter.com. Stella McCartney's Patent Platform Pump in nude faux leather features antiqued silvertone plate on the heel ($1,145; neimanmarcus .com). For evening, Christian Louboutin updates the metallic trend with a silvery wedge decorated with mirrored baguettes ($1,480; onpedder. com/ list-of-stores). And Dior blurs the line between wedge and stiletto with its cutout peep-toe wedge sandal in purple suede ($925;...

Big Government to the Rescue

Markets can't exist without regulation. The real trick is to craft good regulations that allow markets to work well.

Resorts Let Guests Sleep with the Fishes

Luxury resorts have long catered to the human desire for seaside views. But now restaurants, spas and even entire hotels are taking it to a whole new level, going completely underwater.The Red Sea Star Restaurant and Bar in Eilat, Israel, was one of the first to capitalize on the concept. Located 16 feet below sea level, the star-shaped structure offers views of an active coral reef that's illuminated from above at night (redseastar.com).In the Maldives, the Lime Spa at Huvafen Fushi has two underwater treatment rooms, where guests can watch for stingrays, nurse sharks and tropical fish while receiving the signature Unite Me Crystal Ritual treatment, which involves a body brushing and oil massage using locally sourced ingredients (huvafenfushi .com). And the 12-person Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Resort features a 180-degree domed ceiling made of thick acrylic arches so diners can feast on Maldivian fusion cuisine amid the underwater sea creatures (conradhotels...

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