European shares tick higher, drugmakers advance
* FTSEurofirst 300 index rises 0.1 percent
* Media stocks up on M&A speculation related to ITV
* Novartis boosts drugmakers on new drug prospects
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Sept 1 (Reuters) - European shares traded near a recent one-month peak on Monday, with merger and acquisition speculation about British broadcaster ITV helping media stocks and Novartis leading drugmakers.
Novartis, up 4.7 percent, was the top gainer on the FTSEurofirst 300 index. A new drug from the company could replace drugs that have been central to treating heart disease for a quarter of century. The Novartis advance helped the STOXX Europe 600 Healthcare index to gain the most of any sector, at 1 percent.
ITV led the European media index higher, up 0.6 percent. The Telegraph reported that Liberty Global was canvassing support from major ITV shareholders after it acquired a 6.4 percent stake, raising speculation of a full takeover bid. ITV declined to comment.
"We are likely to see M&A activities in other sectors also, as companies are looking to utilise their cash balances," said Keith Bowman, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. "But investors will stay cautious as geopolitical concerns and uncertainty about the ECB's likely policy moves will remain in the background."
Broker Liberum said ITV was its top media pick and still had plenty of upside in its share price. Any bid for the company should reflect the potential upside from ITV's being allowed to charge re-transmission revenues for ITV1, Liberum said. Continuación...