(Adds background on bidders)
PRAGUE/DUESSELDORF, March 27 (Reuters) - 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 Partners.
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 Tom Pfeiffer