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Last Updated: Monday, 25 February 2008, 15:32 GMT
Visa for sale at record price-tag
Visa symbol on a credit card
Visa is owned by the banks that issue its cards
The world's biggest credit-card network Visa plans to raise a record amount of money by issuing shares and listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Visa hopes to raise more than $18bn (9bn) from the listing, which would make it the largest Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the US to date.

The share offering would be the culmination of a restructuring process that began in October 2006.

It is currently owned by banks that issue cards carrying the Visa symbol.

Of the net proceeds, $10.2bn from the listing will be paid to the banks who own the network.

Meanwhile $3bn will be set aside to cover the costs of a variety of litigation that Visa is currently involved with.

Illegally blocked

That includes allegations of price-fixing from major retailers.

Last year, American Express accepted a payment of about $2.1bn from Visa, after claiming it had been illegally blocked from the US bank-issued card business.

Payment on Visa cards for year to end June 2007 - $2.27 trillion
1.4 billion cards in circulation
Accepted by 27 million retailers
Source: Visa Inc

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Visa said it planned to sell 406 million Class A shares at a price between $37 and $42 per share.

It might sell an additional 40.6 million shares if there is sufficient demand, which would boost the potential size of the offering to $18.8bn.

The money raised would dwarf the listing of its rival Mastercard, which raised $2.4bn in May 2006.

Timing worries

But Mastercard's shares have risen sharply since they launched at $39 a share - they are currently trading at about $200.

The listing would also dwarf the $10.6bn raised by AT&T Wireless in 2000, which is the current record-holder.

There is some concern about the timing of the listing, coming at a time when many of Visa's customers are facing economic slowdowns.

"Our fear is that as credit deteriorates, consumer spending will go down and volumes will go down for the card networks," said John Augustine from Fifth Third Private Bank in Cincinnati.

"That would hurt revenue and profit."

Visa makes $2.1bn Amex settlement
08 Nov 07 |  Business
More credit card use boosts Amex
22 Oct 07 |  Business
Amex is suing Visa and Mastercard
15 Nov 04 |  Business
Credit card giants lose court bid
04 Oct 04 |  Business
US credit card battle hots up
30 Jan 04 |  Business

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