BRATISLAVA Dec 18 Czech energy group EPH, a
leading bidder for RWE's Czech gas transmission system
operator Net4Gas, expects a tender winner to be picked in the
first quarter, its chairman was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Germany's RWE plans to sell up to 7 billion euros ($9.2
billion) in assets by the end of 2013 in a bid to keep its
credit rating, lower debt after years of pricey acquisitions and
increase investments following Germany's decision to exit
Net4Gas, which sources have said could fetch between 1.4
billion euros and 2 billion euros, is the biggest item on RWE's
list and has proven difficult to sell.
Sources familiar with the matter said this month the
deadline for final bids had been pushed back to February from
"The tender is ongoing and will likely be decided in the
first quarter of 2013. We think that we have good chances to get
Net4Gas. When you look at bidders, only EPH has clear strategic
interest," EPH chairman Daniel Kretinsky was quoted as saying in
an interview with Slovak newspaper Hospodarske Noviny.
Kretinsky said EPH, which last week concluded the
acquisition of 49 percent stake in Slovak gas utility SPP for an
estimated 2.5 billion euros, should be able to submit the
highest bid for Net4Gas.
EPH and privately-held Czech oil and gas group KKCG have
both said they are among the bidders for Net4Gas and are seen as
the most likely to succeed.
($1 = 0.7598 euros)
(Reporting by Martin Santa; Editing by Mark Potter)