February 27, 2018 / 8:50 AM / 9 months ago

Comcast's Sky bid pushes European media stocks to month high

LONDON (Reuters) - M&A activity spiced up a choppy European trading session on Tuesday as Comcast made a surprise counterbid for pay-TV group Sky SKYB.L, sending its shares soaring.

The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Staff/Remote

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down 0.2 percent at 382.26 points, while U.S. markets dipped after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said data pointed to a strengthening economy, increasing his confidence that inflation would rise.

At the European close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 0.06 percent, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.3. percent and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 0.56 percent.

Concerns over rising inflation and higher bond yields sparked a global equity market sell-off at the beginning of February, but as bond yields have eased this has taken the pressure off equity indexes slightly.

Shares in Sky jumped more than 20.5 percent on the back of Comcast’s (CMCSA.O) $31 billion offer, which could scupper Fox’s (FOXA.O) plan to buy out Sky and sell it to Walt Disney (DIS.N).

Sky shares were trading well above Comcast’s offer price, suggesting some investors expect Fox/Disney to come back with a higher offer.

“It has all the makings of being the most preferential bid for both shareholders and, importantly, regulators,” Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, said.

“This could be a sign of things to come from the U.S. where maybe we’re looking at more international expansion from the U.S. into Europe which is a more straightforward target than perhaps Asia is,” Lawler said.

Europe’s media index .SXMP was the top-performing sector, up 1.2 percent at a one-month high while banks, which typically benefit from rising rates, added 0.5 percent on average.

Corporate results were also in focus, with UK housebuilder Persimmon (PSON.L) advancing 4.6 percent after it reported a jump in full-year earnings and a higher reservations rate and boosted its interim dividend.

Shares in Poste Italiane (PST.MI) advanced 5.8 percent after the group said that it would raise dividends and boost profits through new insurance products and parcel deliveries under a five-year business plan.

French real estate group (GFCP.PA) Gecina posted the worst performance with its shares falling 5.5 percent after Ivanhoé Cambridge sold part of its stake at a 4.5 percent discount to the last closing price.

(GRAPHIC: Europe M&A - reut.rs/2BTcdB3)

Reporting by Kit Rees and Julien Ponthus; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Alison Williams

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