Five companies have made it through to the final bidding round for the sale of the distribution network operator (DNO) Electricity North West, the Telegraph has reported.

According to anonymous sources quoted by the newspaper, they include owners of two other DNOs – Hong Kong-based Cheung Kong Infrastructure, which holds a 40 per cent stake in UK Power Networks, and the Spanish utility Iberdrola, which owns SP Energy Networks through its parent company Scottish Power.

They will be competing against the asset management firms Equitix and Brookfield as well as a joint venture between State Grid Corporation of China and China Southern Power Grid.

Dalmore Capital and Macquarie are both understood to have dropped out of the auction in recent weeks after failing to clear the first round.

The sources said the final bids for Electricity North West are expected to be submitted by the end of May or early June.

Electricity North West declined to comment on the reports. The company is jointly owned by infrastructure funds managed by JP Morgan and Colonial First State.

ENW’s chief executive Peter Emery recently admitted that the company is undergoing a strategic review that could lead to a sale of the business.

Speaking exclusively to Utility Week’s sister title Network Magazine, he said: “We are undergoing a strategic review. That is no secret. The challenge for me and my senior team is to manage that process efficiently and professionally whilst at the same time run the business as business as usual.

“What we’ve said is that the strategic review may lead to a sale of the business. At the end of the day we can’t control who buys our business, but what we can do is do the best job we can.”

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