FTSEurofirst ends near 6 1/2-yr high, Shire surges on takeover offer
* FTSEurofirst 300 hits 6-1/2-yr high before closing flat
* Pan-European index records 10th straight week of gains
* Shire jumps 17 percent on takeover approach
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, June 20 (Reuters) - The FTSEurofirst 300 climbed to a 6-1/2-year high on Friday and recorded its 10th straight week of gains, with analysts saying that expectations of a pick-up in merger and acquisition activity will further boost sentiment.
The benchmark index of top European shares advanced 0.4 percent this week, its longest weekly winning streak since April. It closed flat at 1,394.98 points, after staying in positive territory throughout the session, as some investors took profits on the last trading day of the week.
The market was underpinned by a 1 percent rise in the European healthcare index, making it the best-performing sector, as Shire leaped 17 percent to 43.72 pounds after AbbVie confirmed it had made an offer to acquire it.
Shire rejected the offer worth 46.26 pounds a share, saying it fundamentally undervalued the company. Shire has been seen as a takeover target for U.S. drugmakers due to a mid-sized market value and its tax base in Ireland, where effective corporate tax rates are among the lowest in the world.
"We have had a dearth in M&A activity in the last few years but it does appear to be picking up as business confidence has improved. This is supportive for the market," Robert Parkes, equity strategist at HSBC, said. Continuación...