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Online travel firm Despegar aims to raise $100 mln in IPO

Aug 15 (Reuters) - Latin American online travel provider Despegar.com Corp on Tuesday filed to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company, which applied to be listed under the symbol "DESP," operates in more than 20 countries. Despegar entered into talks with investment banks late last year to be listed on the Nasdaq under its previous corporate name, Decolar.com Inc, which is the name it also uses in Brazil.

The company, which offers bookings for hotels, airlines, attractions and car rentals, is considered a "unicorn," a private technology company valued at some $1 billion.

Such companies are particularly rare in Latin America.

Despegar is controlled by New York-based investment firm Tiger Global Management LLC, one of the largest investors in Brazilian startups. Other shareholders include U.S. online travel provider Expedia Inc and investment firms General Atlantic LLC, Sequoia Capital LLP, Insight Venture Partners LLC and Accel Partners Management LLP.

Despegar, which was founded in 1999, had 2.5 million customers who helped generate $248.5 million in revenue during the first half of 2017, according to its F-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Its primary customer base is travelers from Latin America, and it had $2.1 billion in gross bookings during the first half of 2017.

Its revenue declined by 2.5 percent from $421.7 million in 2015 to $411.2 million in 2016 following fewer transactions and lower gross bookings, according to the company's filing. The company attributed this to economic weakness in Brazil and Argentina, its largest markets.

Underwriters for Despegar's IPO include Morgan Stanley , Citigroup Inc, Brazil's Itau BBA, UBS Investment Bank, Cowen and Keybanc Capital Markets.

(Reporting by Sophia Kunthara in New York; Editing by Christian Plumb and Matthew Lewis)