The daily business briefing: March 21, 2016

Harold Maass
Stephen Lam/ Getty Images
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Sherwin-Williams to acquire Valspar for $9.3 billion

Sherwin-Williams Co. announced Sunday that it is acquiring the Minnesota-based paint and coatings maker Valspar Corp. for $9.3 billion in cash. The $113-per-share deal amounts to a 41 percent premium over Valspar's average volume-adjusted share price leading up to the close of trading Friday. Both boards unanimously approved the deal, which will create a company with total revenues of $15.6 billion and 58,000 employees. [The Associated Press, Reuters]


Apple expected to unveil upgraded, smaller iPhone model today

Apple is expected to launch a new, smaller iPhone on Monday to encourage users of the 5S and 5C models to replace their smartphones. The new device, which reportedly will be called the iPhone SE or 5SE, would be a smaller alternative to the large-screen iPhone 6 family. A smaller version of the iPad Pro also is expected. The event at Apple's Cupertino, California, headquarters starts a big week for Apple. Its lawyers go to federal court Tuesday in their battle against the FBI's demand for help unlocking an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino massacre shooters. [IBN Live, The Associated Press]


Freedom Communications to take Digital First Media offer in bankruptcy auction

Freedom Communications said Sunday that it would accept a $51.8 million takeover offer from Digital First Media. Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times, had made a higher bid in the bankruptcy court auction for Freedom's assets. The Department of Justice, however, filed a lawsuit Thursday to block the deal, saying it would diminish competition by allowing the Times' owner to acquire two other major dailies in the region: The Orange County Register and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside. [Reuters, The Orange County Register]


Stocks hit two-month high in China

Chinese stocks surged to their highest level since January on Monday after authorities cut rates on borrowing money to buy stocks. Brokerage stocks led the gains after the state-backed China Securities Finance Corp. published lower rates for brokerages that make margin loans to investors, dropping the rates on half-year loans from 4.8 percent to 3 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite closed up by 2.2 percent. [MarketWatch]


Starwood signs first U.S.-Cuba hotel deal in decades ahead of Obama visit

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced over the weekend that it had become the first U.S. hotel company to sign a deal with Cuba since the Communist Caribbean island's 1959 revolution. The news came just before President Obama arrived in Havana on Sunday for the first visit by a sitting U.S. president in generations. The Obama administration has been restoring ties with Cuba, but the still-enforced U.S. embargo normally prohibits commercial deals. Starwood got special permission from the Treasury Department last week, and will manage and market two properties in Havana. [Reuters]