LONDON (The Deal) -- The main European markets opened in buoyant mood after the Easter break, following the positive close on Wall Street on Monday. With the Ukraine crisis never far from the news, Moscow's Micex Composite was down 0.45% at 1,338.93 at the end of the morning in Russia. But elsewhere the markets scented the return of animal spirits to the pharma sector, which led the risers in London, Frankfurt, Paris and Zurich.
A three-way, multibillion dollar deal between Switzerland's Novartis (NVS), Britain's GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and U.S. peer Eli Lilly (LLY) was where the real excitement lay . Novartis will spend up to $16 billion buying GSK's cancer drug assets, and sell Glaxo its vaccines business for $7.1 billion plus royalties. Eli Lilly will buy Novartis' animal health division for $4.5 billion. By late morning, Novartis was up 2.41% at Swiss francs 76.5; GSK was up 5.52% at 1,645 pence and, ahead of the New York open, Eli Lilly was trading in Frankfurt up 2.07% at 44.21 eurps.
That was only part of the pharma action this morning. Shares in the U.K's AstraZeneca (AZN) were up 6.56% at 4,029 pence on speculation of a $101 billion takeover offer from Pfizer (PFE), and other pharma stocks were similarly supported on expectations that activist investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital and Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) will announce a $50 billion offer for Botox maker Allergan (AGN).