U.S. equity firm Blackstone Group is taking steps to prepare Hilton Worldwide for a return to life as a public company, sources told The Wall Street Journal. The takeover firm has contacted four banks, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America to help manage an initial public offering for the hotel chain that it took private in 2007 for more than $18 billion with an assumption of $7 billion of company debt, the Journal reported Thursday. Details on the IPO remain unknown or undecided. The IPO could take place early next year, one source close to the matter told the Journal. Before proceeding, Blackstone is also looking to restructure about $13 billion in debt. The company\'s fortunes have been up and down. It was burdened by debt before Blackstone took over, and then it was hit by a decline in travel during the recession. Nonetheless, under Blackstone, the company has swelled from a chain with 2,900 franchises to one with 4,000. Upturns in commercial property values and in the number of travelers has helped raise the company\'s value. In addition, stock markets have been on a prolonged recovery, which has pushed companies to consider going public. There were more IPOs last month than in any July since 2003. The number of U.S. IPOs for the year has reached 121, the most of any year since 2007, Dealogic data shows.