Two infrastructure consortia are expected to submit binding bids on 6 December to acquire Finnish grid company Elenia, sources said.
Some sources thought a Chinese bidder, such as CKI or China State Grid, had also advanced to the second round of bidding for Elenia.
Several other potential buyers held back, seeing the auction as very competitive, sources said.
They are Allianz and Macquarie; and Capman, DIF and QIC.
The majority owners – Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners (GSIP) (45%) and 3i Infrastructure (39.3%) – are working with Citi and Goldman Sachs as sell-side advisers.
The remainder is owned by Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Company (10%) and US insurer TIAA CREF (5.6%). The shareholders acquired the asset in 2012 for EUR 1.54bn from Swedish utility Vattenfall.
Elenia operates Finland’s second-largest electricity distribution grid with a 67,600km network and a district heating business with 85,000 end users.
It reported revenues of EUR 173m in the first half of 2017, compared to EUR 315m of revenue in the full year of 2016. The company had a 55.9% EBITDA margin.
Allianz, DIF, Goldman Sachs, Macquarie and QIC declined to comment. 3i and Capman did not respond to requests for comments.