Apollo Management, The Blackstone Group, two US buyout groups, and PAI Partners, a French rival, have all made it through to the final round of the auction for TNT Logistics, a unit of the Dutch postal and express company.
According to an investment banker at US bank, a decision is expected in two to three weeks bringing to a close a drawn-out sale that began with a flurry of interest last December.
The final three contenders have seen off interest from private equity firms Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Bain Capital among others with bids in excess of €1.3bn, the book value of the logistics business.
Goldman Sachs is advising TNT on the sale. The group intends to return cash to shareholders and focus on its mail and express business.
The company has been under pressure to improve its performance after speculation emerged last year that it could be a takeover target.