* Safeway to retain significant stake
* Blackhawk to list on Nasdaq under symbol "HAWK"
* Goldman Sachs, BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank lead underwriters
March 18 (Reuters) - Blackhawk Network Holdings Inc, grocer Safeway Inc's gift card and payment service unit, filed with regulators to raise as much as $200 million in an initial public offering of its Class A common stock.
Safeway, the second-largest U.S. grocery store operator, said in September that it plans to take the Blackhawk unit public in the first half of 2013.
Blackhawk sells prepaid gift, debit and telephone cards through thousands of retail outlets, including supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores. It also runs the payment and gift card infrastructure for Safeway and other retailers.
Safeway currently owns about 96 percent of Blackhawk and will continue to hold a significant stake in the unit after the IPO, according to the filing.
The grocer benefited from growth at its Property Development Centers real estate unit and Blackhawk, and rebound after a string of lackluster quarterly results.
Safeway forecast 2013 profits above Wall Street estimates Earlier this month, driving up its shares to a near two-year high. The stock has risen almost 38 percent this year.
Blackhawk listed Goldman Sachs & Co, BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank Securities as lead underwriters for the offering.
The company, founded in 2001 as a division of Safeway, reported adjusted net income of $50.3 million on revenue of $949 million in 2012.
The filing did not reveal how many shares would be on sale or their expected price. All shares in the offering will be sold by existing shareholders, including Safeway.
Blackhawk intends to list its common stock on the Nasdaq under the symbol "HAWK."
The amount of money a company says it plans to raise in its first IPO filings is used to calculate registration fees. The final size of the IPO could be different.