(Adds details; updates with closing levels)
* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.05 pct
* M&A fever sparks sharp rally among brewers
* ‘Stay away from UK equities’ -Societe Generale
* British stocks suffer outflows -EPFR Global
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Sept 15 (Reuters) - European shares slipped on Monday, with stocks trading in a narrow range before Scotland votes on independence and the Federal Reserve holds its latest policy meeting, both events that are due later this week.
The prospect of more mergers and acquisitions did fuel a rally among brewers, after the Wall Street Journal reported Anheuser-Busch InBev was talking to banks about financing a possible $122-billion bid for SABMiller.
SABMiller rose 9.8 percent, while shares in Heineken also climbed, by 3 percent, after it said SABMiller had approached it about a takeover but that its controlling shareholder intended to keep the company independent.
AB InBev shares gained 2.8 percent and Carlsberg added 2.7 percent.
“Companies are finally starting to put their big piles of cash to work. This will be good for M&A, and good for the market. There are many sectors ripe for consolidation,” a Paris-based trader said.
Spain’s telecom group Jazztel also surged, gaining 12.6 percent before being suspended in Madrid in late afternoon.
A source told Reuters that France’s Orange was close to an agreement to buy Jazztel.
Hennes & Mauritz also featured among the top gainers, rising 2.4 percent after the fashion retailer said sales climbed nearly 20 percent in August, beating forecasts.
Factoring out the rally in H&M, Swedish stocks were little changed after Swedes voted on Sunday for a minority left government.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended 0.05 percent lower at 1,382.32 points. The index has been moving sideways over the past week pending the Fed’s meeting and Scotland’s referendum.
Recent talk the Fed might turn hawkish at its policy meeting this week, possibly by dropping its commitment to keeping interest rates low, has pushed up U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar.
In Scotland, the latest round of polls showed Thursday’s vote on independence still too close to call. One poll showed the “No” vote 8 points in front, another showed the same lead for the Yes camp and two others gave a 51-49 percent and 53-47 percent split in favour of sticking with the union.
ING Investment Management, which has $242 billion in assets under management, is ‘underweight’ UK stocks relative to global equities, heading into the referendum.
“We intend to remain as such at least until the results of the vote are definite,” Patrick Moonen, senior strategist at ING IM, said.
“Overall, we have reduced our allocation in real estate and equities. This is not only related to the Scottish referendum but also to monetary policy uncertainty, with the FOMC meeting this week.”
The UK’s FTSE 100 index has already underperformed so far this year, up a meagre 0.7 percent in 2014, falling behind a 5 percent rise in the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares over the same period.
Investors have recently been cutting their exposure to UK equities, with a net $672 million flowing out of UK equity funds during the first full week of September, according to EPFR Global.
Roland Kaloyan, Societe Generale’s head of European equity strategy, recommends staying away from UK equities before the vote.
“A Scottish exit would probably trigger a major political crisis with the shakeup of the UK’s political landscape and raising the question as to whether David Cameron could resign,” Kaloyan wrote in a note.
“This would most likely cause UK equities to derate: they are currently trading at a 37 percent price-to-book value premium relative to the rest of Europe, versus a historical average premium of 17 percent.”
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Crispian Balmer