SAO PAULO, May 9 (Reuters) - Buyout firm Advent International Corp has hired Morgan Stanley to sell its stake in the loyalty program of airline Avianca Holdings SA , three sources with knowledge of the matter said.
Advent acquired a 30 percent stake in Colombian-based LifeMiles BV for $344 million in August 2015. The remaining 70 percent is held by Avianca, which operates flights within Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Peru.
Avianca, Advent and LifeMiles did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Morgan Stanley declined to comment.
Advent is sounding out potential buyers, including other financial investors, for its stake while it also explores an initial pubic offering, said one of the sources, who requested anonymity because talks are still private.
The dual track preparations aim to identify the best deal for Advent. Avianca Holdings is listed in Colombia, but its loyalty program unit is not.
Two other airlines' loyalty programs are listed in Latin America: Smiles Fidelidade SA and Multiplus SA , which pertain respectively to Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA and LATAM Airlines Group SA.
LifeMiles has partnered with Avianca Holding's affiliated airlines, along with banks and retailers in Latin America. The program had 7.8 million members in December, about 11 percent more than a year earlier, according to a securities filing.
The controlling owners of Avianca Holdings also own Avianca Brasil, a separately run airline in the Brazilian market, which has its own Amigo mileage program. (Reporting by Carolina Mandl Editing by Brad Haynes and Leslie Adler)