European shares end flat as warnings of tighter curbs cloud M&A cheer

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, November 19, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

November 22, 2021

By Anisha Sircar and Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – European shares ended flat on Monday as Germany’s warning of tighter lockdown restrictions overshadowed gains in Telecom Italia following a $12-billion proposal from U.S. fund KKR to take Italy’s largest phone group private.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index finished flat after falling earlier in the day when German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe’s biggest economy needed tighter restrictions to control a wave of COVID-19 inflections.

This came after a surge in COVID-19 cases prompted Austria to go back into lockdown.

Meanwhile, telecom stocks rose 1.8% – their best day since March – fuelled by a 30.3 jump in Telecom Italia (TIM).

KKR reportedly set an indicative price of 50.5 euro cents for its buyout offer – a 45.7% premium to TIM’s closing price on Friday.

“The premium is very attractive, which is why we’re seeing a big jump in shares, but an interesting thing is going to be the Italian government’s response to the bid, which lays the groundwork for future outside offers – and all the important Italian companies who’ve fallen on tough times,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Italian mobile tower company Inwit, partly controlled by TIM, gained 4.6% as the KKR approach created speculative appeal for the firm, while TIM’s top investor Vivendi rose 2.0%.

Markets in the United States rose after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s nomination for a second four-year term by President Joe Biden.

“The reappointment of Jerome Powell marks the return of the approach pursued by new U.S. presidents since 1980, namely reappointing the incumbent Fed chair in order to provide the continuity that markets crave,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

The European benchmark logged its first weekly drop in seven weeks on Friday as worries about the impact of renewed COVID-19 restrictions knocked cyclical sectors such as automakers and banks.

But those sectors rebounded on Monday, with banks, mining and industrial companies all advancing.

In another telecoms deal, Norway’s Telenor climbed 1.5% after agreeing with Charoen Pokphand Group to merge their Thai units in a deal valued at about $8.6 billion.

Sweden’s Ericsson slid 5.6% after the mobile telecoms equipment maker agreed to buy cloud communications firm Vonage for $6.2 billion.

Wind turbine maker Vestas skidded 2.5% after saying it was hit by a cyber attack that affected its IT systems and compromised data at the Danish firm.

(Reporting by Anisha Sircar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Mark Potter)