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Safeway's Blackhawk to raise $200M
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PLEASANTON (AP) — Blackhawk Network Holdings Inc., the gift and prepaid card unit of Safeway, said in a regulatory filing Monday that it plans to raise as much as $200 million in its initial public offering.

The company did not say how many shares it plans to offer or at what price. But it noted that Safeway will continue to hold a majority stake after the IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol "HAWK."

Safeway Inc., based in Pleasanton, Calif., had announced last year that it planned to sell a minority stake in the business, which it launched in 2001.

In addition to gift cards from brands such as as, iTunes, Macy's and Starbucks, Blackhawk sells cards from payment networks such as American Express, MasterCard and Visa. It also distributes prepaid, reloadable cards from Green Dot and NetSpend that work much like debit cards without requiring users to have a bank account.

In a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Blackhawk noted that card-based forms of payment have increased significantly as paper-based forms of payment have declined. Gift cards and other prepaid products represent a "large and quickly growing segment" within the continuing shift toward electronic payments, it said. Last year, Blackhawk said it processed a load value of $8.5 billion and more than 216 million transactions.

Shares of Safeway, which runs Vons, Dominick's and other chains, fell 32 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $24.59 in morning trading Monday. They peaked at a 52-week high of $25.24 on Friday. They are 67 percent above their 52-week low of $14.73 last July.