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French water firm Saur says it will choose buyer by end-July

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French water firm Saur says it will choose buyer by end-July

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PARIS (Reuters) - Shareholders of French water firm Saur will chose a buyer for the group by the end of this month, a spokesman for the company said on Wednesday.

French newspaper Le Figaro earlier reported that four infrastructure investment funds had been shortlisted to buy Saur. Saur is France's third-biggest water firm, behind its much bigger competitors Veolia <VIE.PA> and Suez <SEVI.PA>.

A Saur spokesman said firm offers will be submitted by July 20 and that Saur's board would decide on them by the end of the month. He declined to comment on the names of the bidders and said that a new shareholder could take control from November.

The Figaro paper said Saur shareholders had made a shortlist of four potential buyers: Meridiam, KKR <KRR.N>, EQT and I Squared, which have all proposed a price of around 1.5 billion euros (1.33 billion pounds).

Le Figaro reported that French fund Meridiam is the frontrunner, but that the three other funds have linked up with French partners: KKR with Jacques Veyrat's Impala fund, EQT with insurer SMABTP and I Squared with Tikehau <TKOO.PA>.

BNP Paribas <BNPP.PA> and Natixis <CNAT.PA> hold 23 and 14 percent of Saur's capital respectively, and another 37 percent is held by British funds.

Saur said last November that it had selected banks to prepare changes in its capital structure, as it aims to become a global water group.

Last year Saur had revenue of 1.3 billion euros, largely in France. By comparison, Veolia had global revenues of 25.12 billion euros.

(Reporting by Benjamin Mallet; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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