UPDATE 1-AccorHotels' increase in 2017 profits beats expectations

* 2017 EBIT 492 mln euros vs est. 481 mln euros

* Brazil still difficult but trends improving in Q4

* Talks about selling stake in AccorInvest in final stages (Adds details, context)

PARIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - AccorHotels, Europe's largest hotel company, posted a forecast-beating 10.1 percent rise in like-for-like operating profits for 2017, helped by cost controls and robust demand in all key regions except Brazil.

The French company said discussions about opening up the capital of its property unit AccorInvest to a group of French and international investors were in their final stages.

AccorHotels, which has more than 4,000 hotels ranging from the budget Ibis to the luxury Sofitel brand, competes with InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood.

AccorHotels said earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) reached 492 million euros ($606 million) in 2017.

This was above a revised company's guidance for a 2017 EBIT at the upper end of a 460-480 million euros range, while analysts polled by Inquiry Financial for Reuters had forecast 481 million euros.

Revenues reached 1.937 billion euros, marking a like-for-like growth of 7.9 percent and an acceleration from 2.2 percent growth in 2016.

The only region where Accor did not have strong growth last year was South America and in particular Brazil, which is slowly emerging from a recession, although Accor said trends had improved in Brazil in the fourth quarter.

CEO Sebastien Bazin, who took over in August 2013, has been cutting costs and expanding in China and the luxury hotels market, with AccorHotels having bought FRHI Holdings, the owner of London's Savoy and New York's Plaza hotels.

AccorHotels has also struck several deals in new areas, such as concierge services, to fight the rising challenges from companies such as Airbnb and online travel agents such as Expedia.

AccorHotels shares have gained 6 percent this year, having risen 21 percent last year.

($1 = 0.8118 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)