LONDON (TheDeal) -- European stocks were mixed on Wednesday amid a drop in German business confidence and another flurry of Greek crisis huddles in Brussels. Dutch food retailer Royal Ahold (AHONY) rose on an agreement to walk down the aisle with Belgium's Delhaize (DEG).
In London, the FTSE inched up 0.52% to 6,870.07, while in Frankfurt, the DAX was 0.28% lower at 11,509.73. In Paris, the CAC 40 nudged down 0.09% at 5,052.99.
In Germany, the second monthly decline in business confidence cast a shadow over the pace of recovery in Europe's largest economy. The June reading from the Munich-based Institute for Economic Research fell to 107.4 points, its lowest since February and down from 108.5 points in May, as a worsening climate for manufacturing and wholesaling offset a rosier outlook for construction.
One economist tweeted that the weak reading was a warning signal and not a drama, since the second quarter was still better than the first.
Markets held steady ahead of afternoon talks in the E.U. capital between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and international creditors, to be followed by another tsatziki-flavored evening gathering of eurozone finance ministers. Expectations remain high for a debt deal this week, just in time to save Greece before its bailout is due to expire on June 30.
In Amsterdam, Ahold was up nearly 1.4% after the Dutch owner of Stop & Shop and Giant Food Stores in the U.S. agreed to buy Belgium's Delhaize for in an all-share deal creating a new grocery giant with €54.1 billion ($60.6 billion) in annual sales.
Under the terms, Delhaize shareholders will receive 4.75 ordinary Ahold shares for every share they own, in a deal valuing Delhaize at €90.04 a share, or 2.3% above Tuesday's closing price. On Wednesday, Delhaize shares were down 3.92%.
Although the companies are diplomatically billing the industry's biggest deal in nearly a decade as a merger of equals, Ahold will own 61% of the combined entity and Delhaize the rest. Ahold CEO Dick Boer will serve in the same capacity at the new company, to be called AholdDelhaize.
In Zurich, Julius Baer (JBARF) added 4.75% after the Swiss private bank said it will pay a preliminary $350 million for its eventual settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over a probe into whether it helped clients evade taxes.
Julius Baer, Switzerland's third-largest listed lender, said while there is no defined timetable for a final settlement, it "continues to work towards closing this regrettable legacy as soon as possible."
The provision will be charged to Julius Baer's half-year results, due to be published on July 20.
Among decliners, Bouygues (BOUYF) slumped more than 7.5% after rejecting Patrick Drahi's €10 billion bid for its telecommunications unit, claiming that the business is poised for strong growth and that a takeover would hit turbulence with regulators.
And in London, specialty chemicals maker Elementis (EMNSF) slumped more than 15% after giving a gloomy outlook for 2015.
Citing a significant reduction in North American oil projects and drilling, the company said it now expects sales of additives to the oilfield drilling market to be 30% lower this year, driven by lower volumes. Additive sales in China and personal care sales in Latin America are also experiencing problems.
Elementis nevertheless remains confident of achieving its goal of "stable earnings and cash flow," with the first-half result expected to be similar as last year.
Asian stocks were mainly in positive territory. The Hang Seng rose 0.26% to 27,404.87 in Hong Kong, while the Nikkei rose 0.28% to 20,868.03.