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Dutch paints maker Akzo Nobel reportedly is in talks to merge with smaller U.S. rival Axalta Coating Systems, to create a paints and coatings giant worth around $30 billion.

Bottom line: This looks like a high-priced case of offense being the best defense, as Akzo Nobel earlier this year rebuffed repeated takeover offers from Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries.

Related: Akzo Nobel continues the sale process for its specialty chemicals business, with first-round bids expected by year-end. It's unclear how that prospective deal – which has drawn strong private equity interest – will be impacted by last week's collapse of the Clariant/Huntsman Corp. merger due to activist investor opposition.

Analyst view from ING's Stijn Demeester:

"Strategically, the two companies make a good fit and a merger would likely create synergies, especially in terms of buying power. Moreover, an acquisition would make Akzo undigestable for PPG and thus make Axalta the ideal poison pill. However, we see hurdles in terms of valuation as Axalta shareholders would require a more than fair share of the combined group, reflecting the higher valuation/margin Axalta is currently bearing. We would expect a negative share price reaction today because of the execution risk and the reduced PPG optionality."

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

Updated 10 hours ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.