* FTSEurofirst index up 0.3 percent
* BHP drops as Brazil eyes damage action
* Lufthansa rises after deal with unions
* Kleinwort Benson soars on counterbid (Adds details, quotes)
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, Nov 30 (Reuters) - European shares rose slightly on Monday before a much anticipated European Central Bank policy meeting this week, while BHP Billiton was among the top losers after news Brazil could seek damages for a dam burst.
Prospects of strong stimulus measures by the ECB continued to support equities in the region with a key benchmark index just below three-month highs touched last week.
“There is still some optimism ahead of the ECB meeting on Thursday, which is the key market driver of the week,” said Carlo Alberto De Casa, analyst at ActivTrades in London.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.3 percent by 0911 GMT, having lost 0.26 percent on Friday, while the Euro STOXX 50 was gained 0.6 percent.
BHP Billiton fell more than 5 percent. Brazil announced plans to sue the owners of the Samarco iron ore miner, BHP and Vale, for $5.2 billion in damages caused by the burst of a tailings dam.
“The reality of the tragic Samarco tailings dam failure is that there are still a lot of unknowns,” Citi said in a note. The broker also cut its target saying BHP’s dividend policy was coming under increasing pressure due to declining cash flow.
Delta Lloyd fell more than 7 percent after the third largest Dutch insurer announced a 1 billion euro rights issue to boost its capital ratio and said it would pay no final dividend this year.
Belgium financial services group Kleinwort Benson soared 12 percent after French private bank Oddo & Cie launched a counterbid for the company, challenging a lower offer from Chinese investor Fosun 0656.HK.
Lufthansa rose 2.1 percent after Germany’s largest airline signed an agreement with services union Verdi on pay for about 33,000 ground personnel. But Lufthansa remains embroiled in disputes over pay and retirement benefits with pilots and cabin crew that has resulted in numerous strikes.
Norwegian fertiliser maker Yara International rose 2.7 percent, receiving a boost from Goldman Sachs, which initiates its coverage on the stocks with a “buy” rating.
Auto stocks, up 1.2 percent, were the top sectoral gainers.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Tom Heneghan)