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
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
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)