BNP Paribas leads European shares lower on U.S. settlement worry

EDINBURGH Wed May 21, 2014 3:11am EDT

EDINBURGH May 21 (Reuters) - European shares fell in early deals on Wednesday, dropping further away from last week's 2014 highs, led down by BNP Paribas after a report that U.S. authorities are seeking to fine the bank.

BNP Paribas fell 2.6 percent, the top faller on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300, after Bloomberg reported that U.S. authorities are seeking more than $5 billion from the French bank as a settlement over its dealings with sanctioned countries.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch describes the fine as "clearly a negative," adding that it could affect the bank's dividend.

The bank accounted for over a third of the 0.4 percent drop on France's blue chip CAC 40 index.

The FTSEurofirst 300 fell 0.3 percent to 1,352.41 points, taking falls for the week to 0.7 percent.

The index is now 1.5 percent off the 2014 peak hit last Thursday, which was the highest level for the index since May 2008.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Francesco Canepa)