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A group led by Macquarie Group Ltd. (MQG), is among five bidders short-listed by Total SA (FP) to purchase its French gas network, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
Macquarie is teaming up with as many as four other partners to bid for the TIGF gas-pipeline network spanning about 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) in southwestern France, the person said, asking not to be named because the process is private. The asset may fetch about 2.5 billion euros ($3.2 billion), people have said.
Total has chosen a group of bidders to make final submissions by mid-January, the person said. The other four bidding groups are led by AXA SA (CS), French government fund CDC Infrastructure, Electricite de France SA and Enagas SA (ENG), according to company officials and press reports.
An official at Total declined to comment.
Total Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said last week Europe’s third-biggest oil company has received seven bids for the network and wants the sale to go quite quickly. He declined to detail how many were short-listed or to give a price sought for the asset.
The explorer is selling TIGF as part of a plan to sell $15 billion to $20 billion of asset disposals from 2012 to 2014 in order to raise cash for oil and gas projects.
Paris-based EDF, the biggest nuclear operator, has teamed up with Government of Singapore Investment Corp. and Snam SpA (SRG) in a preliminary offer for the networks. The French state- controlled utility would add TIGF to its fund dedicated to raising provisions for atomic reactor decommissioning.
French government fund CDC Infrastructure has partnered with Belgian network operator Fluxys SA to make a non-binding bid for the Total asset, Reuters reported last week.
Enagas SA, the operator of Spain’s gas delivery network, has made its bid with partner Borealis Infrastructure, said an official at the Spanish utility.
Axa’s private equity arm is with Credit Agricole (ACA)’s Predica life insurance unit and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, according to an official at the French bank.
A Macquarie-led group reached an agreement in May to acquire E.ON AG’s Open Grid Europe distribution network of natural-gas pipelines for 3.2 billion euros. Open Grid Europe operates about 12,000 kilometers (7,450 miles) of gas- transmission pipes in Germany, according to its website.
Macquarie, Australia’s largest investment bank, partnered with a fund of German reinsurer Munich Re, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s Infinity Investments and British Columbia Investment Management Corp. for the purchase of Open Grid Europe.
Macquarie had three partners for its preliminary bid for TIGF and may add a fourth French one, according to the person.
Erik Portanger, a spokesman at Abu Dhabi’s sovereign fund, and CDC Infrastructure Chief Executive Officer Jean Bensaid declined to comment on the biding process as did Fluxys spokesman Rudy Van Beurden.
Macquarie spokeswoman Karen Smith declined to comment. An official at AXA Private Equity also declined to comment as did one at Snam.
Officials at Total and EDF also declined to comment. Spokespeople at GIC and Borealis couldn’t be reached for immediate comment.
“Predica is part of this consortium,” said Elise Bouteiller, a spokeswoman at Credit Agricole Assurances in Paris, when asked about a bid with Axa and Abu Dhabi.
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