FRESH DEBT: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. filed for the option to offer up to $10 billion in debt securities as the company’s needs warrant. In a shelf registration statement released by the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is seeking to issue new debt from time to time in order to repay long- and short-term borrowings, finance acquisitions, make capital expenditures and for general corporate purposes. Included in the new offer is $500 million in unsold debt securities from an earlier SEC registration. With a shelf registration statement, Wal-Mart can sell securities in one or more separate offerings with the terms of the debt to be set at the time of sale. Bank One Securities is the trustee for the debt securities.

BIG PAYOUTS: Who has Italy’s biggest paycheck? It’s not Giorgio Armani, although the designer did secure the number-two slot on a list published by the Italian weekly newsmagazine Panorama. According to the article, which looked at 2001 tax declarations based on 2000 earnings, Armani’s 2000 income was $170.8 million. (All figures are converted from euros at current exchange rates.) An Armani spokesman said that number was based on one-time gains from a dividend payout from Giorgio Armani SpA, in which the designer is the sole shareholder. Beating out Armani for the top spot was Marco Tronchetti Provera of tire giant Pirelli. The Italian industrialist took home just over $273 million. Donatella Versace landed in the eighth spot with $26.2 million. Others on the list included Luxottica chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio in fifth with $35.7 million and Paolo and Nicola Bulgari, snagging spots 37 and 40, respectively, with a combined income of more than $14 million. Even Leonardo DiCaprio made the list, coming in at 47 with $6.2 million. It appears the actor couldn’t get out of paying taxes while living in Rome to shoot Martin Scorsese’s "Gangs of New York."

JEWEL HOIST: Tiffany & Co. will spend 25 percent more than originally forecast on capital expenditures this year and a total of $95 million on its New York store, $10 million more than originally forecast. In a filing released Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the New York-based retailer said it now expects capital expenditures of $250 million for the year ending Jan. 31, 2003. The company had previously estimated capex of $200 million. While Tiffany did not specify reasons for the increase, it did reaffirm the spending will be used for the opening, renovation and expansion of its stores; growth of its distribution and manufacturing facilities and continuing investments in new systems.

SWEET GIORGIO: Giorgio Armani is celebrating Christmas by getting in touch with his inner chef. Fashion’s Renaissance man has turned to baking. For the past couple of weeks, Armani has been selling limited-edition panettone, a sweet holiday cake, at his Via Manzoni flagship store. Armani won’t release the recipe, saying only that the cakes are prepared according to "Milanese tradition." The panettone sell for about $23 apiece.

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