Sallie Mae’s suitors balk

The $25.3 billion takeover of student loan giant Sallie Mae was thrown into doubt after the buyers said the price is too high. The consortium of buyers, led by fund manager J.D. Flowers, blamed recent credit-market volatility, which has made borrowing more expensive, and imminent federal legislation that will cut federal loan subsidies. But the buyers said they would consider a lower price. (The Washington Post) Sallie Mae said that if they want out, the buyers will have to pay a $900 million breakup fee included in the April agreement. “Sallie Mae seems eager to have its day in court,” said Gimme Credit analyst Kathy Shanley. (AP in Yahoo! Finance)

Chevron buys back $15 billion

Chevron Corp. announced a $15 billion buyback of its shares, equaling 7.5 percent of its $200 billion market capitalization. ConocoPhillips announced its own $15 billion buyback in July, and ExxonMobil has repurchased $28 billion of its shares over the last four quarters. (MarketWatch) The decision to return some of the windfall from soaring oil prices to investors irked critics who argue that oil firms should spend the flowing cash on projects that could lower the rising cost of gas and energy. “This stock buyback is being financed by consumers who are gouged at the pump,” said Rep. Bark Stupak (D, Mich.). (AP in Yahoo! Finance)

Following the drug-free audience

The nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free America, most famous for its TV commercials, is switching its focus to the Internet. The Partnership’s new interactive “Time to Talk” initiative hopes to reach the public—mostly parents—through a Web site and a partnership with Yahoo. In making the switch from TV to the Web, cellphone and video game ads, and other new media, the Partnership says it is following the habits of its constituents. “I would rather be able to reach 100,000 parents well, the way they want to be reached, than reach 10 million with a generic message,” said Partnership CEO Steve Pasierb. (The New York Times, free registration required)

Rocky Mountain hangover

Aspen, Colo.—the former hippie enclave-turned-exclusive resort playground—is looking at ways to downgrade. While other resort towns are trying to come up with ways to keep out low-end chains like McDonald’s, Aspen is worried that high-end chains like Gucci and sky-high rents are ruining the town’s allure. Aspen’s city council has to decide by year’s end if it is going to limit the number of luxury retailers downtown or subsidize at-risk “essential” businesses like laundromats. Or do nothing. “We all love our old Aspen from the ’60s and ’70s, but nothing stays the same,” says downtown commercial landlord Stephen Marcus. (The Wall Street Journal)