LONDON (TheDeal) -- European markets lacked direction this morning. The unresolved impasse over Greek debt is dragging down the euro and holding eurozone markets back. Athens is due to make its next payment to the International Monetary Fund on June 5, but may not have the cash to do so unless its next tranche of bailout money can be unlocked in time.
Yet better news on the eurozone economy was pushing in a more positive direction. Spain and Italy delivered better-than-expected manufacturing index readings for May. And although France is still below the reading of 50 that marks the threshold between growth and decline, the total eurozone result is 52.2. Meanwhile German inflation is also up slightly, suggesting stronger consumption.
In London, the FTSE was down 0.21% at 6,969.59, while in Paris, the CAC 40 was down 0.14% at 5,001.03. In Frankfurt, the DAX was down 0.27% at 11,382.91.
In London, British American Tobacco (BTI) was up 0.78% at 3,633.5 pence, after it signed an agreement to buy Balkan region tobacco company TDR for a total enterprise value of €550 million ($836 million) from Croatian tobacco-to-tourism group Adris.
Online betting company Playtech (PYTCY) dropped 2.8% to 806.5 pence after offering to buy Israeli-based, but London-listed contract for difference trading platform Plus500 (PLSQF), in a deal valuing the target at £460 million ($700 million). Trading in Plus500 was suspended on London's AIM market last month as it came under scrutiny from regulators over its anti-money-laundering procedures. But Playtech, which recently acquired broker TradeFX, said adding Plus500 would prove transformational to its ambitions to widen its offering. Plus500 chief Gal Haber said Playtech would provide additional infrastructure and expertise to his company's core skills in products, technology and marketing.
UK defense and engineering group Ultra Electronics Holdings has agreed to a deal for the electronic products division of San Diego-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions (KTOS) worth up to $265 million. It said the deal would establish a major presence in the growing market for electronic warfare. Ultra Electronics rose 2.62% to 1,879 pence.
Advertising and media giant WPP (WPPGY) was up 0.78% this morning at 1,552 pence a share, despite another looming row over CEO Martin Sorrell's latest pay award -- £43 million, or $65 million -- at next week's annual shareholder meeting. Investor advisory group Glass Lewis has criticized the award as excessive and recommended a no vote. Institutional Shareholder Services called it exceptionally high, but supported it anyway.
In Paris, private equity backed engineering services provider Spie announced the price range for a forthcoming initial public offering of between €14.50 and €17.50 a share. The IPO will include the issue of new shares for about €700 million ($764 million), while existing shareholders, led by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, will also sell part of their stakes.