Worldpay, M&A in focus as European shares consolidate; Italy banks up

* STOXX 600 down 0.3 percent

* Worldpay soars on bid approaches

* Italy banks rally as EU clears Monte Paschi plan
(Adds details, closing prices)

By Helen Reid and Danilo Masoni

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) – A spate of dealmaking news swept
European stocks on Tuesday, with Worldpay soaring after
bid approaches, helping mitigate a broad based pull back from
the previous session’s strong gains.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.3 percent, in
line with a dip in euro zone stocks and Britain’s FTSE
index.

On Monday, European shares had their strongest day since
April 24, when Emmanuel Macron won the first round of France’s
presidential election.

The closure of the U.S. market for the July 4 national
holiday also meant volumes were lower than usual.

“Today is a consolidation day after gains yesterday, as we
don’t have a U.S. market,” said Angelo Meda, head of equities at
Banor Capital.

But dealmaking was back with a vengeance as a key driver of
individual share moves.

Payments company Worldpay shares soared 27.7 percent to a
record high after it received rival takeover approaches from
credit card tech firm Vantiv and JPMorgan.

This came after Danish rival Nets said on Monday
it had received offers. Nets and another German rival Wirecard
rose more than 4 percent.

“This is one of the most intriguing sub-sectors in the
financials space. There are a lot of companies still, and we are
probably going to have only one or two big leaders in the
payments space,” said Meda.

EDP was a top gainer, up 1.6 percent after Spain’s
Gas Natural was re[ported to have approached the
Portuguese utility for a $40 billion merger which would create
Europe’s fourth biggest utility by market capitalisation.

Gas Natural shares fell 0.6 percent. EDP denied negotiations
were taking place.

Shares in French rival EDF also dropped 4 percent
after HSBC downgraded the stock to “reduce”.

Clariant shares gained 3 percent after two activist
investors upped their stake in the Swiss chemicals firm in
opposition to a planned merger with U.S. firm Huntsman.

Baader Helvea analysts said the move could make a counterbid
more likely.

And the prospect of suitors Bain and Cinven getting
regulatory approval for a renewed offer for Stada
sent the generic drugmaker’s shares up 2.2 percent.

Italian stocks outperformed as banks rallied
more than 1 percent to a 15-month high after the country’s
ninth-biggest lender Carige approved a 500 million
euros cash call to beef up its balance sheet.

“This was the last piece of the puzzle which we needed to
fix, in order to have a recovery in credit and profitability in
banks… It’s not yet in the prices, because the market still
wants to see non-performing loans problems being solved,” said
Meda.

A further boost to the sector came from news that the
European Commission gave its blessing to a state bailout of
Monte dei Paschi di Siena, paving the way for a deep
restructure of the troubled lender.

(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)


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