Besides the two utilities, among the investment and infrastructure firms working on potential offers are Canadian investor Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and a consortium of private equity firm KKR with Dutch pension fund APG, two of the sources said.

Jefferies, which is advising ENWL's shareholders on the sale, has requested the interested parties to submit indications of interest in the first weeks of May, two other sources said. The four sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

ENWL, Kepco, Jefferies, Equitix, Iberdrola, Engie, KKR, APG, CDPQ declined to comment.

Other bidders could line-up offers before the deadline, the sources added.

Electricity networks are attracting investors' interest as countries need to adapt decades-old grids from the traditional model of large, fossil fuel power plants to wind and solar power generation.

The European Commission calculates that 584 billion euros ($622 billion) of investments are needed in Europe alone to increase the capacity needed for the electrification and green transition of the economy.

A deal could value 100% of ENWL at around 4 billion euros, two of the sources said. ENWL delivers electricity to some five million customers in Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria.

ENWL is owned by a consortium led by Japan's Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kepco) and investment fund Equitix, which both own 40% stakes, the company's annual report shows.

Australian infrastructure manager Macquarie, which has studied the asset in the past, is unlikely to pursue it, a fifth person close to the process said.

A Macquarie spokesperson declined to comment.

($1 = 0.9386 euros)

(Reporting by Andres Gonzalez, editing by Anousha Sakoui and David Evans)

By Andres Gonzalez