Hungary's MVM seen as frontrunner for E.ON's Czech Innogy sale: sources

FRANKFURT/PRAGUE (Reuters) - Hungary's state-owned energy group MVM is seen as a frontrunner to buy E.ON's EONGn.DE Czech Innogy retail operations, although the German utility is in talks with other bidders, two sources close to the deal said.

MVM joined a shortlist of Czech groups bidding for Innogy’s nearly 1.6 million gas and electricity customers in the Czech Republic before final bids were due at the end of May.

The sale has been agreed with the European Commission, the EU executive, to secure anti-trust clearance of E.ON’s purchase of Innogy’s network and retail assets.

Negotiations with MVM are not yet exclusive and E.ON is continuing talks with Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky's energy group EPH, which has teamed with French oil and gas group Total TOTF.PA in a bid.

Conversations with KKCG, controlled by another Czech billionaire, Karel Komarek, are also continuing in the event a deal with MVM does not come to fruition, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

E.ON declined to comment.

MVM, which includes Hungary’s nuclear power plant, gas-fired and solar power generation capacities, the Hungarian grid operator and involvement in the gas market, told Reuters this month it bid for the assets because it wanted to expand in central Europe.

MVM had no immediate comment.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Jason Hovet; additional reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff and Marton Dunai; editing by Barbara Lewis