* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.6 pct, peripherals most hit
* Alcatel surges, Nokia slips on tie-up news
* Greece denies it is preparing for a debt default
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, April 14 (Reuters) - European stocks fell on Tuesday as renewed worries over Greece offset any positive impact from news of a tie-up between Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent .
Shares in the French telecom gear maker surged 15.4 percent after the two firms said they were in advanced talks for Nokia to take over Alcatel. Nokia shares were down 4.8 percent.
Clairinvest fund manager Ion-Marc Valahu expressed scepticism over the merits of the proposed deal.
“They are two of the weaker players in the industry. They could come up with some cost cuts, but just because you combine one weak player with another weak player does not necessarily mean that you will end up with a stronger player,” Valahu said.
The deal added to a recent wave of M&A activity that has helped driven European shares higher. However, it wasn’t enough to lift European equity markets overall as investors were spooked by a report saying Greece was preparing for a debt default if it did not reach a deal with its creditors by the end of the month.
Greece denied the Financial Times report and said the negotiations were proceeding “swiftly” towards a solution.
Shares in Greek banks skidded, with National Bank of Greece down 5.3 percent and Alpha Bank falling 6.7 percent.
“Even if there’s been an official denial, investors remain concerned by the risks of a Greek default,” Mirabaud Securities’ senior equity sales trader John Plassard said.
Other euro zone banking stocks also lost ground, with UniCredit down 2.6 percent, Banco Santander off 2.5 percent and BBVA 1.8 percent lower.
Mining shares also dropped, along with metal prices as investors grew concerned about demand in top commodity consumer China a day before the country updates on economic growth.
Rio Tinto was down 2.8 percent and BHP Billiton fell 2.2 percent.
At 1400 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.6 percent at 1,637.82 points.
Around Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 index was flat, while Germany’s DAX index and France’s CAC 40 were both down 0.9 percent.
Peripheral euro zone markets underperformed, with Spain’s IBEX and Italy’s MIB down 1.5 and 1.3 percent respectively, halting their recent brisk rally.
European stocks have made strong gains so far this year, with the FTSEurofirst 300 up 20 percent, boosted by the drop in the euro currency as well as by the European Central Bank’s asset-buying programme.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Susan Fenton