By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Nutter administration has revealed that 30 companies originally expressed interested in buying PGW.   And officials have now asked a smaller number of firms to submit final bids — though they won’t say how many.

Mark McDonald, the mayor’s spokesman, says 30 companies responded to a request for qualifications in August, then a smaller undisclosed number submitted what called “indicative” bids.  That list has now been winnowed down again.

“We’ve now gone to the next level and reduced that number to a number that, for competitive reasons, we’re not able to disclose,” McDonald said today.   “But this smaller group of interested parties will now receive much more detailed information about (PGW).”

Final, binding bids from the smaller group will be due in January, and the city would finalize sales terms by February.

Any decision by the mayor would then need final approval by both City Council and the state Public
Utility Commission.

McDonald says the mayor believes the sale is a good idea.

“We think there’s a strong case to be made for the sale of the company,” McDonald tells KYW Newsradio.  “We reserve judgment — in the end you have to wait until you see the final, binding offers — but it’s certainly encouraging.”

The city’s financial advisor on the sale predicts a final sale price of between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.

Unions representing some PGW workers are opposed to the privatization.   The Nutter administration counters that the sale proceeds could shore up the city worker pension fund and improve, overall, the city’s struggling finances.