Shell, SoftBank among potential suitors for $5 bln renewable energy firm Equis-sources

SINGAPORE, July 25 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell and SoftBank are among several global groups considering bidding for Equis Energy, Asia’s largest independent renewable energy producer valued at up to $5 billion, sources familiar with the matter said.

Japanese trading companies, global pension funds and buyout firms are also in the fray to buy Singapore-based Equis, the sources said, at a time when many Asian governments are expanding the use of renewable power and renewable energy costs are decreasing.

First-round bids for Equis are due this week, said the sources.

Equis owns a portfolio of 97 projects comprising solar, wind and hydro generation assets spread across countries including Japan, India, Philippines and Australia.

It is part of Equis Funds Group, which has raised $2.7 billion in equity from global investors for infrastructure investments, mostly in renewables, over the past five years. Equis Funds was set up by a group of senior executives, many of whom worked at Australian investment bank Macquarie Group.

Bidders are forming groups so that they can divide the portfolio as some buyers are keen to only buy certain assets, the sources said.

Other potential suitors include Japanese financial conglomerate Orix Corp, which is teaming up with Dutch pension fund APG, and a joint bid from I Squared Capital – an infrastructure investor - and a Japanese trading company, the sources said.

Shell, SoftBank, Orix and Equis declined to comment, while I Squared and APG did not immediately respond to Reuters queries. The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media. (Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Additional reporting by Kane Wu in HONG KONG, Taiga Uranaka, Ritsuko Ando and Sam Nussey in TOKYO and Florence Tan in SINGAPORE; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)