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LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening higher on Monday, with June futures on the index up 0.5 percent by 0641 GMT. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index slipped on Friday from its seven-week closing high the day before, ending down 17.31 points, or 0.3 percent, at 6,685.69 points, knocked back by concerns surrounding the situation in Ukraine.
* The United States and Europe are preparing new sanctions against Russia as tensions escalated in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels paraded European monitors they are holding on Sunday, freeing one but saying they had no plans to release another seven.
* It is a quiet day in terms of scheduled corporate news, with no UK blue chips set to report results.
* RECKITT BENCKISER : Merck & Co Inc is in the final stages of selling its consumer healthcare unit for close to $14 billion, with Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc and Bayer AG among final contenders to clinch a deal as soon as next week, people familiar with the matter said.
* ASTRAZENECA : U.S. drugmaker Pfizer confirmed on Monday it made a bid approach to AstraZeneca in January and had contacted its British rival again on April 26 seeking to renew discussions about a takeover.
A Pfizer bid for AstraZeneca would be one of the largest ever pharmaceuticals deals. The renewed approach comes amid a wave of M&A in the sector.
* BG GROUP : The chief executive of UK oil and gas group BG Group, Chris Finlayson, has resigned with immediate effect for personal reasons, the company said.
* BHP BILLITON : Mining veteran and former Xstrata head Mick Davis has offered to buy BHP Billiton’s thermal coal division, which could form the core of his X2 Resources, the Sunday Times said.
* PREMIER OIL, Ophir Energy : London-listed oil and gas explorer Ophir Energy said it was no longer interested in making a takeover offer for rival Premier Oil after a proposal was rejected by the Premier Oil board.
* BSKYB : BSkyB is preparing a major overhaul of its set-top box technology to address the threat to its subscription business from internet-based television services from American giants such as Amazon, Apple and Google , the Telegraph reported.
* WM MORRISON : The grocer is facing a 160 million pound ($267 million) hit from its botched takeover of Kiddicare, the babycare retailer, the Sunday Times said.
Separately, A former director at Morrisons who served under Ken Morrison has warned the grocery retailer is a “supertanker heading towards an iceberg” and called for management to step aside, the Telegraph reported.
* ENERGY SUPPLIERS: Britain’s biggest energy suppliers could pocket a 2 billion pound windfall over the next three years after the government miscalculated a deal to cut green levies, new research claims, the Telegraph reported.
* RANDGOLD RESOURCES : Gold production from Randgold Resources’s Tongon mine in northern Ivory Coast will hit 260,000 ounces this year, up from 233,591 ounces in 2013, the company said.
* Britain’s housing market recovery spread further beyond London this month as prices rose in more parts of England and Wales outside the capital than at any time over the last decade, a survey showed.
TODAY‘S UK PAPERS
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$1 = 0.5948 British Pounds Reporting by Tricia Wright