FRANKFURT, July 20 At least four peers of Europe's biggest bathroom equipment maker Grohe submitted exploratory offers for the private-equity owned company by Friday's deadline, two sources familiar with the deal told Reuters on Saturday.
Swiss rival Geberit, U.S.-based Fortune Brands , Japan's Lixil and Brazil's Duratex have made tentative bids, the sources said.
Grohe received six bids in total, one of the sources said.
In the early stages of an auction, companies often hand in bids to get an opportunity to look at their rival's books, and often drop out when asked to make a binding offer.
The potential sale, which values Germany's Grohe at up to 4 billion euros ($5 billion) in equity and debt, could be the largest European private equity sale this year, topping BC Partners' acquisition of German publisher Springer Science and CVC's purchase of German energy-metering firm Ista.
Grohe's owners, TPG Capital and the private equity arm of Credit Suisse, are running a dual-track process that may result in a stock market listing in the autumn.
Thailand's Siam Cement said this week that it was no longer interested.
Grohe, its owners and their advisers - Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs - as well as Geberit and Lixil declined to comment.
A Duratex spokeswoman said, "The company has no knowledge and there is no information on this subject."
Fortune was not immediately available for comment.
Analysts say that buying Grohe could be a stretch for some of the company's smaller peers: Duratex has a market capitalisation of $3.7 billion, Fortune's is $6.8 billion and Lixil's $7.5 billion.