COPENHAGEN - Private equity investors have shortlisted investment banks for an offering of stock in Denmark's leading telecom operator TDC, a $9 billion company, which would be Copenhagen's biggest offering in years.

London-based bankers close to the deal said a choice of investment banks to arrange the biggest Danish share sale since insurance group TrygVesta listed in 2005 was expected within one or two weeks.

The deal, which is expected in the second or third quarter, could be the largest of the year in Europe, if private equity vehicle NTCH, owned by Blackstone, Permira [PERM.UL], Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts [KKR.UL], Providence and Apax, decide on a full exit from its 88 percent ownership of TDC.

NTCH, or Nordic Telephone Company Holding, bought most of TDC in a 115 billion Danish crowns ($22.47 billion) record private equity buyout in 2005.

NTCH declined to comment.

Sources said owners will pick among Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Goldman Sachs to arrange the deal, but that nobody had yet been mandated.

Senior investment bank sources in Copenhagen said local investment banks Danske Bank, Nordea and SEB all pitched on the deal and would remain in the race at least until TDC reports full-year numbers on February 4.

This is a highly unpredictable deal, a Copenhagen-based investment banker who asked not to be named said.

The shares already trade, so it could be done without local Nordic banks sidekicking to reach local retail buyers.

A free float of less than 6 percent trades on the Nasdaq-OMX Copenhagen. TDC shares on Thursday traded at 230 Danish crowns per share pricing the company with a marketcap of 45 billion Danish crowns.

Pension fund ATP, which control 5.5 pct. of the telecoms, last week told Reuters setting a target price on the offering would not be possible until Swiss regulators had cleared TDC's sale 1.5 billion euro ($2.18 billion) sale of Swiss mobile operator Sunrise to France Telecom, which is expected in April [ID:nLDE605190]. ($1=5.117 Danish Crown) ($1=.6877 Euro) (Additional reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Rupert Winchester)