Grocery chains, led by Kroger, anchor many of Brixmor's 522 shopping centers.

NEW YORK CITY-The Blackstone Group has filed paperwork to launch an initial public offering for its Brixmor Property Group unit, the shopping center operator it formed after acquiring Centro Properties Group‘s US assets for $9 billion in 2011. Pricing for the IPO, which has not yet been declared effective by the SEC, was not specified; Brixmor says it intends to trade as a REIT on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BRX.

In its registration statement Thursday, Brixmor says it owns and operates the largest wholly-owned portfolio of grocery-anchored community and neighborhood shopping centers in the US. The IPO portfolio is comprised of 522 shopping centers totaling approximately 87 million square feet of GLA, wth all but one of those centers 100% owned.

“Our high quality national portfolio is well diversified by geography, tenancy and retail format, with more than 70% of our shopping centers anchored by market-leading grocers,” according to Brixmor’s S-11 filing. The REITs four largest tenants by ABR are the Kroger Co., TJX Cos. Inc., Publix Super Markets and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Brixmor cites several factors that have driven and at the company believes have driven and will continue to drive internal growth. In its same-property portfolio, Brixmor has increased occupancy for nine consecutive quarters, increased its total ABR for 20 consecutive months through March of this year, executed 1,391 new leases and realized NOI growth of 3.8% for the year that ended Dec. 31, 2012 and 4% for the quarter that ended March 31.

“We believe that our IPO portfolio provides us with further opportunity for meaningful NOI growth over the coming years,” according to Brixmor’s filing. Key drivers, according to the filing, will be “a combination of occupancy increases across both our anchor and small shop space; positive rent spreads from below-market in-place rents and significant near-term lease rollover; and the realization of embedded redevelopment opportunities.”