October 24, 2016 / 8:52 AM / 2 years ago

European shares rise, boosted by U.S. merger moves

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* STOXX 600 rises 0.5 percent

* AT&T/Time Warner deal boosts media sector

* But high profile Chinese deals hit roadblocks

* Banks recoup post-Brexit vote losses

* Spain outperforms as political deadlock seen ending

* Cobham sinks after profit warning

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Merger activity in the United States helped to support European stocks on Monday, but two high profile Chinese deals to buy European firms hit difficulties to send shares in Syngenta and Aixtron tumbling.

The STOXX 600 was up 0.5 percent at 345.97, having ended Friday flat. Last week it posted its biggest weekly rise since mid-September, up 1.3 percent.

Zodiac Aerospace rose 3 percent and was among the top risers on the index in early deals. It benefited from merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in its sector, with Rockwell Collins striking a deal to buy B/E Aerospace for $62 a share in cash and stock on Sunday.

Media and broadcast firms were also in focus, with ITV up 2.3 percent and Sky up 1.5 percent, after AT&T Inc agreed to buy Time Warner Inc for $85.4 billion over the weekend.

French Connection rose 15 percent after the Telegraph reported that there was interest from the United States in a takeover of the UK fashion firm.

“We have seen a stronger open this morning after more corporate activity in the US, which will help the media names in the session,” said Atif Latif, director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers.

“Also French Connection private equity talk is helping M&A activity (and) this will become a theme given the advantages of the FX weakness allowing more UK listed names to become attractive targets.”

However, M&A didn’t squarely support the market, as a couple of high profile deals by Chinese firms to take over European companies hit major roadblocks.

Syngenta fell 8.6 percent after the EU said that ChemChina had missed a deadline to offer concessions to regulators regarding its $43 billion bid for the Swiss pesticides and seeds group.

In another example of the scrutiny that such acquisitions are under from regulators, the German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese takeover of chip equipment maker Aixtron , throwing up an unexpected hurdle for a 670-million-euro ($728 million) deal on the home stretch.

Shares in Aixtron were down 6.2 percent.

Bank stocks were up 1 percent, and the sector recouped all of its losses since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June.

BNP Paribas rose 1.1 percent to its highest level so far this year. Analysts said that its high exposure to fixed income, currency and commodity (FICC) trading should benefit the bank, following stellar results in that department when the major U.S. banks reported earnings last week.

BNP Paribas’ latest quarterly results are due on Friday.

Spanish banks were among the top risers in the sector, and Spain’s IBEX was up 1.2 percent, hitting a six-month high and outperforming as the country looked set end a 10-month period of political deadlock.

Spain’s conservative leader Mariano Rajoy looked set to secure a second term in power for his People’s Party after his Socialist rivals agreed to abstain in a looming confidence vote on Sunday.

Top individual riser on the STOXX 600 was Philips, up 4.3 percent after its results.

Among the big fallers, aerospace and defence firm Cobham fell 18 percent after it issued its second profit warning in six months. (Editing by Jon Boyle)

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