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M&A 'boom' dominates Europe share trading as oil leads gains

Stock MarketsDec 12, 2017 12:40PM ET
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© Reuters. The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

By Helen Reid and Danilo Masoni

LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) - Mergers and acquisitions dominated European share trading on Tuesday, while strength in oil stocks after a pipeline shutdown helped lift a key regional benchmark index to five-week highs.

The pan-European STOXX 600 (STOXX) index climbed 0.7 percent to its highest level since Nov. 9, while euro zone blue chip stocks (STOXX50E) rose 0.4 percent, helped by a late drop in the euro .

Gemalto (AS:GTO) surged 34.6 percent after French tech consultancy Atos (PA:ATOS) tabled an all-cash bid valuing the Dutch cybersecurity company at 4.3 billion euros.

Gemalto shares, which have been dented by four profit warnings in a year, led gainers on the STOXX on Tuesday and helped the tech sector (SX8P) bounce 1.7 percent. Gemalto's shares ended at 45.6 euros - just below the bid price.

Gemalto has until Friday to review the unsolicited bid, which Atos hopes will boost its digital security credentials. Atos shares rose 7.1 percent to the top of the CAC 40.

In other deal-driven moves, Unibail-Rodamco (AS:UNBP) declined 4.1 percent after the French commercial real estate group offered to buy shopping mall owner Westfield Corp for $16 billion.

"Year ends with M&A boom on French market," wrote Kepler Cheuvreux analysts.

"While the acquisition of Gemalto is not the straightforward one we expected, Atos's management has a strong track record for turning around companies," they added.

Unibail's acquisition of Westfield would help it "finally" get U.S. and UK exposure, Kepler said.

Oil stocks (SXEP) rallied after oil prices rose above $65 a barrel for the first time since mid-2015 following a shutdown of the UK's biggest North Sea oil pipeline.

The oil and gas sector (SXEP), which has been the worst-performing this year, jumped 1.6 percent.

Dialog Semiconductor (DE:DLGS) rose 4.6 percent, with one trader pointing to a report that the company's chips were to be used in Huawei's Mate 10 Android smartphones.

Dialog's shares have plummeted this year due to concerns over its reliance on top customer Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which could in-source its power chip production.

"The power chip in Huawei is a fast charging solution, and it's a new play for (Dialog) as far as a new customer," said Lee Simpson, analyst at Stifel.

"But it's a difficult story to fully embrace given your 75 percent customer is leaving the building," he added. Stifel downgraded Dialog to "hold" from "buy" earlier on Tuesday.

Genmab (CO:GEN) fell 6.2 percent after it flagged 2018 expense growth of 40 to 50 percent due to pipeline investments.

South African retailer Steinhoff (DE:SNHG) meanwhile jumped 22.8 percent, which still left its shares at around a quarter of their price before accounting irregularities emerged.

PostNL (AS:PTNL) gained 4.4 percent after JP Morgan upgraded the stock to "overweight", saying it offered attractive dividend prospects.

M&A 'boom' dominates Europe share trading as oil leads gains

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