Hello friends and Fortune readers.
Wall Street stock futures are heading higher this morning. European indexes are trading lower, and Asian markets closed the day mixed.
In the news today: Senator Ted Cruz has announced his 2016 presidential bid, while Singapore’s first and longest-serving Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of the nation’s remarkable transformation, has died.
Also, investors will be keeping an eye on shares of Starbucks (SBUX) today. Less than a week after launching its ambitious “Race Together” initiative, the coffee company is ending a key part of the program: baristas will no longer be writing the words “Race Together” (or placing stickers) on cups they hand customers as a signal to start a chat about one of the most polarizing issues in American life.
Here’s what else you need to know to start your day.
1. Italian tiremaker Pirelli accepts $7.7 billion takeover.
Pirelli, Europe’s third-largest tiremaker, is on board with a multi-billion buyout by ChemChina. The Chinese maker of tires and other chemicals bid 15 euros per share, valuing the Milan-based company at 7.1 billion euros ($7.7 billion). ChemChina was able to secure the deal by buying out Pirelli’s largest investor Cam Finanziaria’s 26.2% stake, though it still depends on ChemChina securing 90% of Pirelli shares in order to take the tiremaker private. The deal would be the biggest purchase by a Chinese company in Italy and would give ChemChina access to Pirelli’s high-end car tires, boosting its international standing.
2. Greece and Germany meet once again.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras joins German Chancellor Angela Merkel today in Berlin to discuss Greece’s precarious situation. Greece may soon run out of money if it cannot convince other European leaders that it’s willing to satisfy the requirements of its bailout agreement. Tsipras has said the meeting is a chance to talk “without the pressure of any negotiation,” according to Greek media. Though, behind the scenes his officials are putting together new economic reform plans that could please its creditors and secure more funding. German and Greek officials have gone head-to-head in recent months over the deal as Germany pushes for Greece to stick by its austerity measures.
3. RadioShack goes up on the auction block today.
RadioShack’s bankruptcy auction kicks off today, deciding the fate of the chain’s remaining assets. It will pit hedge fund Standard General, which wants to keep about half the retailer’s stores open, against those that want to liquidate its assets for cash. Standard General has partnered with Sprint to save 1,723 stores in order to operate them as co-branded retail locations. The hedge fund believes RadioShack (RSH) can make a resurgence but wants to buy the assets by crediting the debt the company owes it, which has been challenged by other lenders in recent weeks. RadioShack must have a buyer or a liquidator by the end of the month.
4. China-led investment bank gets U.S. support.
President Obama has proposed that the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) work hand-in-hand with U.S.-led institutions, such as the World Bank. The U.S. has opposed international support for the AIIB, though that hasn’t prevented nations like the UK, Germany and France from throwing their support behind the endeavor. President Obama said the two banks could co-finance projects, which could help align the AIIB with the same goal’s as the world’s leading economies instead of becoming an extension of Beijing’s foreign policy.
5. Let the 2016 U.S. presidential race begin.
Republican Ted Cruz announced his official candidacy early Monday morning with a tweet, becoming the first major candidate to declare he’s running.
“It’s a time for truth,” said Cruz, who is popular with Tea Party supporters, in the 30-second video. “It’s going to take a new generation of courageous conservatives to help make America great again.” Cruz will also announce in a more traditional even on Monday at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by pastor Jerry Falwell and claims to be the largest evangelical Christian university in the world.