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* LiveMarkets: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets
* European stocks rise, Italy outperforms
* M&A chugs along, Lloyds rises after credit card deal
* Mediaset surges on Vivendi plans to raise stake
* Deutsche Boerse, LSE in talks with Euronext on
* Actelion falls as UBS questions possible Sanofi takeover
By Vikram Subhedar and Danilo Masoni
LONDON/MILAN, Dec 20 European shares rose
slightly on Tuesday, holding near their highest levels since
January, helped by a busy year-end for corporate deal making and
more signs that Italy is making progress on stabilising its
wobbly banking sector.
Europe's STOXX 600 rose 0.5 percent to its highest
since Jan. 4 with financials providing the biggest boost to the
index. Among national benchmarks, Italy's FTSE MIB was
the best performer, up 1.5 percent to its highest since end
A recovery in corporate mergers and acquisitions activity
helped underpin the ongoing year-end rally, with Mediaset
surging another 23 percent in heavy volumes on Vivendi
plans to raise its stake in the Italian broadcaster to
Mediaset, which saw more than 10 percent of its capital
traded on Tuesday, has doubled in share price value since late
November and is now positive on the year.
Corporate deal making, which had a record year in 2015,
suffered earlier this year from uncertainty surrounding
Britain's vote to exit the European Union, the U.S. presidential
elections and Italy's efforts to stabilise its banking system.
"It could be that a lot of firms worried about Brexit and
Trump earlier this year have realised that nothing has really
changed yet, markets are up and want to get deals done," said
Artur Baluszynski, head of research at investment firm Henderson
Elsewhere, Lloyds Banking Group rose 2.2 percent
after saying it would buy MBNA from Bank of America for $2.4
billion, a move that would make the British lender the
second-biggest credit card provider in the country.
Euronext shares rose 2.5 percent after Deutsche
Boerse and London Stock Exchange said they
were in talks to offload LCH.Clearnet to the pan-European
exchange operator ahead of their planned merger.
Italy's banking index rose 2.3 percent after the
government decided to seek parliamentary approval to borrow 20
billion euros to underwrite the stability of its banks, starting
with a likely bail-out of No. 3 lender, Monte dei Paschi di
Siena, as early as this week.
The materials sector, particularly metals mining shares,
underperformed and some investors locked in profits following
the stellar run this quarter and as concerns about China
Top STOXX loser was Actelion, which fell 5.6
percent after UBS questioned the rationale of a potential
takeover of the Swiss drugmaker from French rival Sanofi
while worries appeared to be growing that a deal may
not be as close as reports suggested last week. Sanofi rose 1
Immofinanz fell 5.5 percent after it reported a
first-half net loss due to difficult market conditions in
Russia, which also prompted the Austrian property firm to
postpone a merger decision with CA IMMO to 2018.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Alison Williams)