French oil and gas major Total has received expressions of interest in its domestic gas transport and storage unit, TIGF, although the winning bidder would face government scrutiny, a union spokesman said on Wednesday.
Total's plans to sell the unit for an estimated 2.8 billion euros (2.2 billion pounds) were first reported by Reuters in July. The company could use the proceeds from the sale of the network, which operates in the southwest of France, to fund acquisitions. Total said at the time that no sales process was underway.
However, the unit told unions during a works council meeting on Tuesday that Total was indeed looking for a buyer.
"They told us there were a lot of interested buyers," said union spokesman Patrick Mathieu.
"There's a group of buyers who could include foreign industrial companies, pension funds or even the Caisse des Depots," he added, referring to the French state bank that was previously part of a consortium that bought a stake in GDF Suez's French gas pipeline business in 2011.
He added that any buyer would have to be vetted by the government "in as much as they would need to transfer the permits to run the network.
"This sale is complicated and we're going to do our best to make it even more so," he added, raising the possibility of strikes.
Total said last month that it planned to sell assets worth as much as $20 billion through to 2014 as part of a bolder management approach that involves buying and selling assets more frequently.
(Reporting By Benjamin Mallet. Editing by Andre Grenon)