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 German utility RWE, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
German insurer Allianz, too, is still in the race, the sources said, while a spokesman for Czech financial group KKCG said it would submit a 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 sources said.
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 to buy into safer assets that yield guaranteed returns, including power and gas grids, amid turbulent stock markets and low interest rates.
The sources said that Macquarie and EPH, whose biggest shareholder is billionaire Czech businessman Petr Kellner, had a good chance of winning the auction.
Macquarie, RWE and Allianz declined to comment.
EPH had no immediate comment.
($1 = 0.7442 euros) (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko, Christoph Steitz, Arno Schuetze, Tom Kaeckenhoff, Jana Mlcochova and Jason Hovet)