* New South Wales state shortlists 3 bidders for next round - sources
* IFM, Mitsubishi-Acciona, Hastings-OTPP shortlisted bidders - sources
* Shortlisted parties need to submit binding bids in May - source
SYDNEY, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Australia’s New South Wales state has shortlisted three bidders for the $2 billion long-term lease to run a desalination plant in Sydney, its largest city, four sources with knowledge of the deal said on Wednesday.
The shortlisted bidders are groups led by Industry Funds Management (IFM); Mitsubishi Corp and Acciona, and Hastings Funds Management with Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP), said the sources, who declined to be named because the shortlist is not yet public.
Macquarie Group is advising Industry Funds Management, while Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Canada are jointly advising Hastings and OTPP. Goldman Sachs is advising the NSW state government.
A group led by Queensland Investment Corp (QIC), which was bidding with infrastructure fund RREEF, was among those to miss out on the shortlist, the sources said.
The shortlisted firms would need to submit binding bids in May, along with committed financing, to the NSW government, one of the sources said.
A number of lenders were backing more than one bidding group because bank liquidity has tightened considerably in Australia due to the European debt crisis.
That does not include Commonwealth Bank of Australia , which is supporting the IFM bid exclusively, according to banking sources.
The Mitsubishi-led group has the backing of mainly Japanese lenders, while Hastings’ financiers include Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Morgan Stanley, National Australia Bank, RBC and Westpac Banking Corp, the sources said.
A spokeswoman for the NSW state treasurer was not immediately available for comment. QIC and IFM declined to comment when contacted.
The NSW government announced plans last November for the long-term lease of the plant, which opened in early 2010, and plans to use the funds for public transport, road, utility and hospital infrastructure.
The winning bidder would operate the desalination plant and feed output to Sydney Water, which supplies the city of more than 4.5 million people. The plant has a maximum capacity of 250 million litres a day.
The desalination lease is part of a NSW plan to lease some public assets to raise money to build infrastructure. The government has appointed Morgan Stanley to advise it on the long-term lease of Port Botany in Sydney.