** French daily Le Figaro reports that four infrastructure investment funds have been shortlisted to buy French water firm Saur. Saur is France’s third-biggest water firm but it is much smaller than sector leaders Veolia and Suez.
** Figaro says Saur shareholders have made a shortlist of four potential buyers: Meridiam, KKR, EQT and I Squared, which have all proposed a price of around 1.5 billion euros ($1.74 billion).
** It added that French fund Meridiam is the frontrunner, but that the three other funds have linked up with French partners: KKR with Jacques Veyrat’s Impala fund, EQT with insurer SMABTP and I Squared with Tikehau.
** The four funds have to submit final firm bids by July 20, the paper reported.
** BNP Paribas and Natixis hold 23 and 14 percent of Saur’s capital respectively, and another 37 percent is held by British funds. Saur said in November it had selected banks to prepare changes in its capital structure as it aims to become a global water group. Le Figaro said France still accounts for 90 percent of Saur’s 1.3 billion euro revenue.
($1 = 0.8608 euros)
Note: Reuters has not verified this story and does not vouch for its accuracy
Reporting by Geert De Clercq