UPDATE 1-Casino seeks to list global e-commerce unit on Nasdaq -source

(Adds details of business plans, competitive context)

SAO PAULO, May 6 (Reuters) - France's Casino hired Morgan Stanley & Co and JPMorgan Chase & Co to list its global e-commerce platform spanning from Brazil to Thailand, a person familiar with the matter said late on Tuesday, as the group confronts competition from U.S. giant Amazon Inc and Chinese rival Alibaba <IPO-ALIB.N>.

Casino's Brazilian subsidiary, GPA, said in a securities filing that the group was preparing to combine its online units for a potential listing in the United States. According to the source, who has direct knowledge of the plans, the preference is for an IPO on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

The deal would bring new firepower to an e-commerce player with more than $4 billion in annual sales in France, Brazil, Colombia, Thailand and Vietnam at a time when major rivals are expanding their global reach.

Amazon arrived in Brazil earlier this year with its Kindle e-reader, and eBay Inc is launching a site in Portuguese this week for Brazilian consumers.

Chinese Internet powerhouse Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which focuses in Brazil on business-to-business commerce, filed a prospectus on Tuesday for an IPO in the U.S. that is expected to raise upwards of $15 billion to expand its business.

Morgan Stanley has had a leading role for years in underwriting major technology IPOs.

GPA said the plan to merge online units with Casino will create a new international holding, called NewCo initially, while seeking to maintain the efficiencies of its joint e-commerce and brick-and-mortar business.

Nova Pontocom, the online unit of GPA, had about $2 billion in sales last year on websites serving the Brazilian market. Casino's e-commerce division, Cdiscount, booked 2013 sales of about $2.1 billion in France and opened websites for Thailand, Vietnam and Colombia this year.

GPA's press office declined to comment on specifics of its plans. Casino officials in Brazil could not immediately be reached for comment. Media representatives for Morgan Stanley and J.P.Morgan in New York had no comment on the matter.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Brad Haynes; Editing by Ken Wills)