March 19, 2018 / 8:36 AM / a year ago

European shares open lower, Micro Focus plummets

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LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Monday as caution gripped investors ahead of an expected Fed rate hike, while earnings and M&A took centre stage with software company Micro Focus' sinking and a bid for Hammerson boosting commercial real estate stocks.

Micro Focus plummeted 40 percent to a three-year low after it cut its annual revenue forecast and its CEO quit. Revenue was hit by lower licence income and issues with its purchase of Hewlett Packard Enterprise assets.

Hammerson soared 27 percent, the top STOXX 600 gainer, after the UK commercial real estate investment trust (REIT) said it had rebuffed a takeover offer from Klepierre which valued the shares at a 40.7 percent premium to Friday's closing price.

Klepierre's approach boosted shares in other UK commercial real estate stocks, while its own shares fell 3.2 percent.

Barclays jumped 3.7 percent after activist investor Sherborne acquired voting rights of more than 5.16 percent in the British bank.

Europe's main benchmark, the STOXX 600 index, fell 0.6 percent as investors held their breath ahead of Wednesday's U.S. Federal Reserve meeting which marks the debut for new Fed Chair Jerome Powell, and a likely interest rate hike.

While Hammerson's surge higher drove the European real estate sector to the top spot, basic resources and oil companies were the worst performer as crude and metals prices slipped.

German consumer goods firm Henkel fell 5.4 percent after it said the first quarter was off to a slow start due to delivery difficulties in North America. (Reporting by Helen Reid editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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