Blackstone Group LP hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley to explore a sale or initial public offering of its La Quinta hotel chain, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative-asset firm, expects to find a buyer or file for a stock listing in the fourth quarter, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. La Quinta is valued at about $4.5 billion including debt, the person said.

Blackstone is starting to sell real estate investments as the stock market rallies. The New York-based company last month filed for initial public offerings of Brixmor Property Group, the second-largest U.S. shopping-center landlord, and Extended Stay America Inc., a mid-price lodging chain. It has said it plans to file for an IPO of Hilton Worldwide, the world’s biggest hotel chain, as early as the fourth quarter.

Peter Rose, a spokesman for Blackstone, declined to comment on the potential sale or IPO of La Quinta. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that the company had hired bankers.

Blackstone is the biggest owner of U.S. hotel rooms, according to National Real Estate Investor. The Bloomberg index of hotel real estate investment trusts has jumped 18 percent in the past 12 months, reaching a five-year high in May.

With assistance from David Carey in New York. Editors: Kara Wetzel and Daniel Taub. To contact the reporter on this story: Hui-yong Yu in Seattle at hyu@bloomberg.net. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net. 

Photo Credit: La Quinta Hotel in downtown Chicago. La Quinta Inns & Suites / La Quinta Inns & Suites