UPDATE 1-SSE opens bidding for EDF's British power grids

Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:58pm EDT

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* Scottish & Southern says made indicative bid

* CKI also made indicative bid -- source

(Adds comment on a second bidder, background)

By Peter Dinkloh and Greg Roumeliotis

LONDON/AMSTERDAM, March 16 (Reuters) - Scottish & Southern Energy Plc (SSE.L) said it has made an indicative offer for the British power grids of French peer EDF (EDF.PA), as the field of potential buyers for the three networks is narrowing down.

"We have put in an indicative bid, it's at a very early stage of the process," Scottish & Southern's Finance Director Gregor Alexander told Reuters on Tuesday on the sidelines of a conference in London, declining to specify the value of the bid.

SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant said in November he would be surprised if SSE did not team up with Canada's Borealis, but that no formal partnership had been agreed then.

Hong Kong's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd (1038.HK) also made an indicative bid, i.e. an unbinding expression of interest, for the distribution grids, a person close to the company said.

EDF is hoping to get more than 4 billion euros ($5.5 billion) for the network to help cuts its debts. Other potential bidders include National Grid Plc (NG.L) and a consortium made up of Macquarie Group Ltd (MQG.AX), Canada Pension Plan and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. [IDnLDE6192DX]

Steve Holliday, chief executive of National Grid, declined to comment when approached by Reuters.

On offer are three power networks that serve 20 million people in London, the east and southeast of England, areas that account for 40 percent of British GDP. EDF Energy, which runs the DNOs, made a pre-tax profit of 189 million pounds ($283.3 million) in 2008. (Writing by Peter Dinkloh and Victoria Bryan; editing by David Holmes and Andre Grenon)

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