* Deadline for final bids on Monday - sources
* Bids to range between 1.5-2 billion euros - sources
* Macquarie, EPH seen as front-runner - sources
(Adds details, background on asset disposals)
WARSAW/FRANKFURT, Feb 14 Czech energy firm EPH
and Macquarie will submit a joint bid for Net4Gas, the
Czech gas transmission system operator owned by Germany's No.2
utility RWE, four people familiar with the matter told
German insurer Allianz, too, is still in the race,
the sources said, while a spokesman for Czech financial group
KKCG confirmed it would submit a "very proper and serious bid",
not elaborating further.
The bids, due on Monday, Feb. 18, are expected to range
between 1.5-2 billion euros ($2-2.3 billion), the sources said.
"The process is in its final stages," one of the people
RWE is selling off up to 7 billion euros in assets by the
end of the year to cut its 34 billion debt pile and raise cash
to invest in growth areas such as renewable energy. The company
has already made disposals worth more than 1.8 billion euros.
Net4Gas operates more than 3,600 km of pipelines, employs
more than 500 staff and accounted for about 11 percent of RWE's
net profit in 2011.
Infrastructure investors have been looking for assets that
yield guaranteed returns, including power and gas grids, because
of low interest rates and volatile stock markets.
The sources said that Australian investment bank Macquarie
and EPH, whose biggest shareholder is billionaire Czech
businessman Petr Kellner, had a good chance of winning the
EPH, made up of more than 30 energy companies, is pushing
ahead with a multi-billion euro acquisition plan. In January,
the group said it would buy a 49 percent stake in Slovak gas
utility SPP from Germany's E.ON and France's GDF Suez
for a total of 2.6 billion euros.
Macquarie is a major force in European infrastructure M&A,
having already bought RWE's 4,100 kilometre gas network
Thyssengas as well as a 35 percent stake in RWE's Czech gas
Macquarie, RWE and Allianz declined to comment. EPH had no
($1 = 0.7442 euros)
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko, Christoph Steitz, Arno
Schuetze, Tom Kaeckenhoff, Jana Mlcochova and Jason Hovet.
Editing by Jane Merriman)