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Exclusive: Blackstone's La Quinta attracts buyout interest - sources

Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos January 24, 20
Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos January 24, 20

By Ilaina Jonas and Olivia Oran

(Reuters) - La Quinta Inns & Suites has attracted interest from a number of potential suitors that could value the Blackstone Group LP -owned budget hotel chain at as much as $4.5 billion, three sources with knowledge of the matter said this week.

Firms that are looking at La Quinta include hospitality holding companies Choice Hotels International Inc and Hospitality Properties Trust , as well as private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC , the sources said.

First-round bids for La Quinta are due next week, two of the sources said.

Spokesmen at Apollo, Blackstone, Choice Hotels International and Hospitality Properties Trust did not reply to emails seeking comment.

Blackstone had hired JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley to explore a potential sale or public offering for La Quinta, a person familiar with the matter said in August.

Since Blackstone took La Quinta private in 2006 in a $3.4 billion deal, it has focused on building the brand through additional franchise locations as well as the acquisition of more assets.

With more than 550 hotels in 39 states, La Quinta is one of the largest owners and operators of budget service hotels in the United States.

Blackstone has recently moved aggressively to sell or take public its real estate assets.

It filed in September to take U.S. hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Inc public and has also registered hotel chain Extended Stay America Inc and shopping center unit Brixmor Property Group for IPOs.

(Reporting by Ilaina Jonas and Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Ken Wills)

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