LONDON (TheDeal) -- Continued uncertainty over Greek debt and some sour notes from Asia overnight helped keep European markets off balance Friday. Once again, Europe's leaders failed to reach agreement and have pushed a Greek debt deal back to finance ministers for the weekend. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said everything must now be done to find a solution on Saturday.
London's FTSE 100 was down 0.93% at 6,744.38, while in Paris, the CAC 40 slipped 0.31% at 5,026.11. In Germany, the DAX was down 0.38% at 11,428. But Spain's IBEX 35 was just in positive territory at 11,311.6 and in Greece the Athens General Index was down just 0.1% at 780.9.
In London, supermarket Tesco (TSCDY) bounced 3.3% to 224 pence a share on the news that like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to May 30 fell less compared with the same period a year earlier. The slide was 1.3% compared with 1.7% in the quarter ended February 28, so it was an improvement of sorts.
The troubled grocer's new CEO, Dave Lewis, said the retailer was "fixing the fundamentals of shopping" to win back customers so they were "buying more things, more often at Tesco." Rivals J Sainsbury (JSAIY) and Wm Morrison Supermarkets (MRWSY) were each up over 1% on Tesco's coattails, as all three battle the German discounters Aldi and Lidl for market share.
In Frankfurt, satellite broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media (PBSFY) was up 1.1% at €45.73 after agreeing to buy German price comparison site Verivox for up to €250 million from its private equity owner Oakley Capital Investments. The deal is ProSieben's largest digital acquisition so far. Oakley, which is listed on London's junior AIM market and will retain a minority stake in Verivox, is up 1.8% at 163.25 pence.
In Paris, private equity-owned auto rentals company Europcar hit a pothole on its first day of trading, slipping 3.43% from its IPO price of €12.25 to change hands at €11.83 in late morning. Europcar raised €475 million ($532 million) on the issue of new shares in the IPO for a market capitalization on opening of €1.8 billion. Owners Eurazeo (EUZOF) and ECIP Sarl sold a further €404 million of existing shares. Eurazeo was down 2.15% at €61.89.
Overnight in Australia, retailer Woolworths (WOLWF) was up 3.83% at A$27.39 on reports of a potential bid from private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR). KKR's interest, if real, follows profits warnings and the planned departure of Woolworths CEO Grant O'Brien. Australia is another market where German discounter Aldi is proving disruptive to the established players. But Woolworths would be a big bite even for KKR. It has a market cap of A$34.7 billion -- that's $26.7 billion.
In Asia, where spectacular swings on the Chinese exchanges have become the norm, the drop in Shanghai has been dramatic even by local standards. The Shanghai Composite closed down 7.4% at 4,192.88. That's after a 3.5% drop the previous day. It's also 6.37% down on the week.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.31% at 20,706.15, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 1.78% at 26,663.87.