* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.3 pct
* Shire gains in anticipation of takeover offers
* Alstom extends fall after Siemens/Mitsubishi bid
* Travel and leisure mount a comeback as oil steadies
By Alistair Smout
EDINBURGH, June 17 European shares edged higher
on Tuesday, boosted by hopes for mergers and acquisitions among
healthcare companies and rebounding from losses caused by
Shares in British pharmaceutical group Shire rose
3.5 percent, the biggest gain on the pan-European FTSEurofirst
300, after Reuters reported that it had hired
investment bank Citi as an adviser, expecting to receive
takeover approaches following a wave of deals in the healthcare
British peer AstraZeneca successfully resisted a
takeover approach from Pfizer last month. U.S. medical
device maker Medtronic agreed earlier this week to buy
"Shire have been perennial potential bid candidate for years
now," said Jeremy Batstone-Carr, a research analyst at Charles
Stanley. U.S. companies were looking for UK-based firms for tax
reasons, he said.
In other M&A news, Alstom fell 1.4 percent,
extending Monday's decline in late trade, after Germany's
Siemens and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
made a joint offer to the French turbine maker.
Siemens and Mitsubishi challenged a bid by General Electric
, which was trying to work with the French government on a
deal after its offer ran into political difficulty, despite
being better for shareholders, according to Barclays.
"Siemens and MHI propose a complicated deal in which Siemens
seems to be the only clear winner in our view ... It has the
opportunity to consolidate its existing service network with
that of Alstom, with the potential to reap the accompanying cost
synergies," analysts at Barclays wrote in a note.
"For Alstom, the proposal offers recapitalisation, but
doesn't solve demand issues, in our view. We continue to believe
the GE deal is better for Alstom shareholders."
By 0753 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 was up 0.3 percent at
1,388.51 points, retracing most of yesterday's 0.4 percent fall.
Travel and leisure was the sector gaining the most,
rising 0.8 percent after losses last week, when tension in the
Middle East saw Brent hit $113 a barrel.
Investors have favoured commodities such as oil and safe
havens over more risky equities as conflict in Iraq escalated.
President Barack Obama considered options for military
action to support Iraq's besieged government on Monday but made
no decision on the U.S. response to a Sunni militant onslaught
that has threatened to tear the country apart.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Editing by Larry King)