LONDON (Reuters) - Germany's largest utility E.On (EONGn.DE) has recruited Goldman Sachs (GS.N) to run a sale of its gas distribution network in a move that could raise up to 2.5 billion euros to help pay down its debts, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
The newspaper cited people familiar with the situation as saying the U.S. investment bank has been chosen to find buyers for Open Grid Europe, which operates a pipeline network in Germany and is a subsidiary of E.On's gas supply unit Ruhrgas.
The unit could be valued at 2 billion euros to 2.5 billion euros and a sale is likely to take until the first or second quarter of 2012 to complete, the people cited in the article published on the FT's website said.
Buyers are likely to include financial investors, similar to those that have been drawn to other transmission unit sales by utilities, as well as strategic buyers such as Enel (ENEI.MI), Italy's largest power utility, one person familiar with the process speculated.
E.on and Goldman were could not be reached for immediate comment.
Reporting by Stephen Mangan