Obama to attend trade fair in Germany

President Obama will head to Hanover, Germany, in late April to attend a trade fair, part of the administration’s push to secure a European trade deal before he leaves office, the White House announced Wednesday.

Obama will participate in the Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade show for industrial technology, and will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his visit. Administration officials are hoping to make progress on the Trans­atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), negotiations between the United States and the European Union that have taken a back seat to the recently forged Trans-Pacific Partnership. That trade deal encompasses a dozen Pacific Rim countries, including the United States. It remains unclear whether negotiators can conclude TTIP talks during Obama’s final year in office.

The goal of the talks is to eliminate tariffs completely between the United States and the European Union, which together generate more than a third of the world’s GDP, and harmonize regulations on a range of goods and services.

Obama’s visit to the Hannover Messe, which was founded nearly 70 years ago and draws nearly 6,500 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors from around the world, is the first for a sitting American president. It will mark his fifth trip to Germany.

In a statement, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the event “presents an unique opportunity to showcase American innovation and ingenuity and to highlight the United States as a prime investment destination.”

Pep Boys agreed to be acquired by Carl Icahn for more than $1 billion after Bridgestone backed down from a bidding war with the billionaire investor. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Even as Obama consults with European leaders, however, he will be stepping up his outreach to key Asian nations next year. The president is hosting the first-ever U.S. summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Feb. 15 and 16.

— Juliet Eilperin

Icahn is purchasing the Pep Boys chain

Pep Boys agreed to be acquired by Carl Icahn for more than $1 billion after Bridgestone backed down from a bidding war with the billionaire investor.

The auto-parts chain said Wednesday that it terminated a merger pact with Bridgestone and signed a definitive agreement to be bought by Icahn Enterprises for $18.50 a share. Icahn’s investment firm also will pay Bridgestone a $39.5 million termination fee on behalf of Pep Boys.

Icahn’s aggressive bidding reflects optimism in the auto-parts retailing industry, which stands to benefit from an aging vehicle fleet on American roads. Both Icahn Enterprises and Bridgestone were seeking to expand their presence in the tire and repair sector by adding Pep Boys’ 800 locations across more than 30 states.

Icahn plans to combine Pep Boys with the Auto Plus chain, which he acquired this year. Analysts have speculated that Icahn may be interested only in Pep Boys’ retail operation and could sell the tire and services division to other interested parties — one of which could be Bridgestone, which operates more than 2,200 tire and automotive centers in the United States.

— Bloomberg News

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