(Adds background on bidders)
PRAGUE/DUESSELDORF, March 27 German insurer
Allianz and Canadian infrastructure investor Borealis
are very close to signing a deal to buy Czech gas transmission
system operator Net4Gas from RWE, sources familiar
with the talks said on Wednesday.
Two of the sources said the deal was very close to
completion. Another said it could be clinched as soon as
Wednesday or Thursday.
Net4Gas operates more than 3,600 km of pipelines, employs
more than 500 and accounted for about 11 percent of RWE's net
profit in 2011.
"The talks are close to an end," one source said. "Allianz
and Borealis are the buyers."
RWE and Allianz declined to comment. Officials at Borealis
were not immediately available for comment.
Czech media had put the Allianz-Borealis bid at 1.8 billion
euros ($2.31 billion), but none of the parties involved have
confirmed that price.
Banking sources told Reuters earlier this month that Allianz
and Borealis were awarded preferred bidder status and that a
group of 13 banks was lining up syndicated loan financing of
more than 1 billion euros to back the deal.
Czech energy holding group EPH and Czech natural gas miner
KKCG were interested in Net4Gas. Media have also reported that
Belgium's Fluxys was a bidder, in partnership with Global
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.
($1 = 0.7777 euros)
(Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff, Robert Muller, Jason Hovet, Jan
Korselt and Jonathan Gould; Writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by