* LiveMarkets: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets
* European stocks edge up, Italy outperforms
* M&A chugs along, Lloyds snaps up MBNA from BofA
* Mediaset +17% as Vivendi ups stake
* Deutsche Boerse, LSE in talks with Euronext on
LONDON, Dec 20 European shares rose slightly on
Tuesday, holding near their highest levels since January, helped
by a busy year-end for corporate deal making and more signs that
Italy is making progress on stabilizing its wobbly banking
Europe's STOXX 600 rose 0.2 percent with healthcare
and financials providing the biggest boost to the index. Among
regional benchmarks, Italy's was the best performer, up
But geopolitical risks for markets were underscored by
investigations into killings in Berlin and Zurich overnight as
well as the assassination of Russia's ambassador in Turkey.
Those incidents had little impact across European equity
A recovery in corporate mergers and acquisitions activity
helped underpin the ongoing year-end rally, with Mediaset
surging another 18 percent on Vivendi plans to up its
stake in the Italian broadcaster to 30 percent. Mediaset shares,
now up on the year, have nearly doubled since late November.
Corporate deal making, which had a record year in 2015,
suffered earlier this year from uncertainty surrounding the UK's
vote to exit the European Union, the U.S. presidential elections
and Italy's efforts to stabilise its banking system.
"It could be that a lot of firms worried about Brexit and
Trump earlier this year have realized that nothing has really
changed yet, markets are up and want to get deals done," said
Artur Baluszynski, head of research at investment firm Henderson
Elsewhere, Lloyds Banking Group said it would buy
MBNA from Bank of America for $2.4 billion, a move that would
make the British lender the second-biggest credit card provider
in the country.
Lloyds shares rose 2.2 percent and were the top gainers on
the FTSE 100.
Euronext shares rose more than 3 percent after
Deutsche Boerse and London Stock Exchange
said they were in talks to offload LCH.Clearnet to the
pan-European exchange operator ahead of their planned merger.
Italy's banking stocks rose more than 1 percent
after the government decided to seek parliamentary approval to
borrow 20 billion euros to underwrite the stability of its
banks, starting with a likely bail-out of No. 3 lender, Monte
dei Paschi di Siena, as early as this week.
The materials sector, particularly metals mining shares, was
the biggest drag on the broader markets and some investors
locked in profits following the stellar run this quarter and as
concerns about China resurface.
(Reporting by Vikram Subhedar; Editing by Catherine Evans)