* Pan-European STOXX 600 index little changed
* Stada soars to new record after "generous" offer
* Hedge fund plan to unlock value in BPH boosts stock
* Barclays slips after whistleblowing probe hits CEO
(Adds details, updates prices)
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, April 10 Gains in mining giant BHP
Billiton and fresh merger and acquisition activity in the
pharmaceutical sector led otherwise flat markets in Europe on
The pan-European STOXX 600 index and Britain's FTSE
100 were little changed, while Germany's DAX
inched 0.05 percent lower.
European shares joined a global stock market rally at the
end of last year on growing optimism over the economic outlook
but caution has stepped in over the past few weeks as the
first-quarter earning seasons approaches and doubts over a
fiscal stimulus in the United States have emerged.
"Markets continue to struggle to break out from of their
main ranges," said Alessandro Balsotti, fund manager at JCI
Capital in Milan. "In the last two sessions potential political,
monetary and economic triggers were not missing but the effect
on the various asset classes hasn't been significant."
The STOXX has gained just 0.1 percent over the past seven
sessions - a significant slowdown since the sharp gains it saw
after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, German drugmaker Stada soared 11
percent, leading gainers on the STOXX index and hitting a fresh
record high. The company said it had decided to support an offer
from Bain Capital and Cinven for 66 euros per share, valuing the
company at about 5.32 billion euros.
"We believe this is very generous to Stada's shareholders
and recommend they accept the offer," James Vane-Tempest, equity
analyst at Jefferies, said in a note.
Fresenius inched up 0.2 percent after saying it
was in talks with the generic drugmaker Akorn for a
While Fresenius said there could be no assurance that a deal
would result from the talks, one trader in Frankfurt said a key
question was how would the group eventually pay for the possible
acquisition. "Capital hike or not?," he said.
BHP Billiton rose 4.8 percent, leading a positive
mining sector, after hedge fund manager Elliott Advisors
put forward a proposal to unlock value from the mining giant.
Eliott sent a plan to BHP directors to unlock shareholder
value by scrapping the miner's London Stock Exchange listing,
demerging its U.S. oil arm and revising its capital return
Gains among miners and pharma were offset by weaker energy
stocks and financials.
In the financial sector, Barclays fell 0.2 percent after
news that British regulators were investigating the bank and its
CEO, Jes Staley, over the handling of a whistleblowing incident.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Andrew Heavens)