Germany's Xetra-Dax finished in negative territory. Utility names, such as RWE (-1.23%) and E.on (-1.11%) were down on disappointment over the lack of news regarding the German political situation. Bayer (BAY
) (-0.23%) said it won't make a counter offer for BHI, Boots' consumer healthcare business, which is being snapped up by Reckitt Benckiser. Metro (+0.44%) expects to raise at least €1.15 billion from the sale of its Praktiker DIY unit, reports the FT. VW's (-0.66%) Audi unit plans to launch a SUV called Q7 in the U.S. in June as part of a sales push to take on rivals DaimlerChrysler (DCX
) (-0.23%) and BMW (+0.23%), reports the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, BMW saw group car sales rise 11.4% in September, while Daimler said its Mercedes group reported a 4.9% September rise. Porsche (-1.05%) has secured another 8.2% of VW. It now owns about 18% of the auto giant.
Altana (+0.94%) could spend as much as €1 billion to make acquisitions and add new products, according to local media reports. Postbank (+0.44%) CEO Wulf von Schimmelmann told Boersen Zeitung that a decision on BHW will be made by the end of the year. On the broker front, Deutsche downgraded MAN (-0.59%) to sell from hold. Deutsche's analysis suggests that the capital goods sector is close to fair value on a number of measures.
In the UK, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index ended just marginally lower, with miners and financials causing most of the pain in the FTSE as investors shun risk and economy plays. But a rebound in crude oil futures provided some support thanks to BP (BP
) (+0.24%) and Shell (RD
) (+0.65%). Additional support came from M&A news as Reckitt Benckiser (+1.87%) acquired Boots' (+2.01%) BHI unit for £1.926 billion. Reckitt sees substantial synergies. Boots confirmed it will pay £2.00 special dividend. Among earnings releases, Sainsbury (+1.61%) reports same-store sales ex-petrol up 2.8% in the second quarter, stronger than expected. But Cable & Wireless (CWP
) (-16.05%) plummeted after saying it sees first-half revenues down 6%. Investors hoping for a London Stock Exchange (-2.25%) deal may have to wait for a few weeks. Computershare says it has no intention of investing in the exchange, and The Times says that, although Macquarie is interested, no deal is expected for several weeks.
In France, the CAC40 ended lower on Friday after an attempt to turn around its fortunes earlier in the day failed. Breadth was 27-12 negative, with over 98 million shares traded. Total (TOT
) (+0.57%) got a mild lift from a slight rise in crude oil.
Accor (-0.35%) slipped ahead of its board meeting on Monday to appoint a new CEO. Members are said to be in disagreement over who should take the helm, but local press reports that Pelisson, head of Bouygues Telecom, is a front-runner. Publicis' (+0.68%) CEO Maurice Levy is due to hold a meeting today with Vincent Bollore, chairman of Havas (+0.73%), who has raised his stake in Aegis to 13.36%, The Independent reports. Any discussion between them is bound to raise the temperature in the bidding for Aegis, which Levy has already indicated Publicis would be willing to buy for £1.40 per share, the paper notes.
) (+0.63%) was higher on expectations it will disclose a consensus-beating third quarter performance.
Vinci (+1.09) gained as the French government asks prospective buyers of the three toll road operators to submit their final binding offers by Nov. 7, according to La Tribune.