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* Elior was first listed in 2000 and de-listed in 2006
* Elior looking for shareholders to back growth strategy
* Elior's listing seen among largest in Paris in 2014
By Noëlle Mennella
PARIS, March 4 (Reuters) - Caterer Elior said on Tuesday it would return to French stock market by the summer after an eight-year absence, in an estimated 4 billion euro ($5.51 billion) flotation that could be one of the largest on the Paris bourse this year.
"Elior confirms (it is) preparing a stock market listing on Euronext Paris by Summer 2014," a company spokesman said.
"We must find shareholders to back the group's growth strategy," he added, without elaborating.
Last month a source with knowledge of the matter had said that Charterhouse Capital Partners, which owns 62.4 percent of Elior, had selected banks to handle a stock market listing of Elior later this year.
The same source told Reuters on Tuesday that Rothschild was advising Elior on the sale while Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, HSBC and Credit Agricole would handle it.
Founded in 1991, Elior is the third-largest contract caterer by revenue in Europe after France's Sodexo and Britain's Compass.
The company was first listed in 2000 and de-listed in 2006, when British private equity group Charterhouse Capital Partners bought it for 2.5 billion euros.
Elior had estimated revenue of around 5 billion euros in 2013 against 4.5 billion in 2012, and a sale could value Elior at about 4 billion euros, according to previous media reports.
This would make Elior's one of the largest new listings on the French bourse this year along with that of Coface, the trade credit insurance unit of French bank Natixis, and possibly SFR, the mobile phone unit of Vivendi, which is also looking for potential buyers.
Elior, which employs 103,000, generates 56 percent of its sales in France and has growth abroad through targeted acquisitions.
Elior has a contract arm which provides catering to businesses, schools and hospitals and accounts for around two thirds of the firm's overall business. It also has a concessions business which serves airports, railways and motorways.
Charterhouse had looked at a potential sale of Elior last year.
Elior co-founder Robert Zolade has 24.7 percent, and Chequers Capital holds 7.8 percent. The remaining 5.2 percent is owned by other investors.