Visa could launch $18.8bn record IPO

(REUTERS)   



Visa Inc, the world's largest credit-card network, on Monday said it may raise up to $18.8 billion (Dh69bn) in its eagerly awaited public sale of shares, which could make it the largest initial public offering ever.

 

The company filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to sell 406 million Class A shares at $37 to $42 each, resulting in proceeds of $15 billion to $17.1 billion. It said it might sell another 40.6 million shares to meet demand, boosting the potential size of the IPO to $18.8 billion.

 

A successful IPO would surpass the $10.6 billion offering in 2000 by AT&T Wireless Group.

 

San Francisco-based Visa plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "V."

 

The timing of Visa's offering is risky, as worries that the US economy might be entering a recession have chilled investor demand for stocks and IPOs.

 

But shares of smaller rival MasterCard Inc have more than quintupled since that card network went public in a $2.4 billion IPO in May 2006.

 

"MasterCard has been an explosive stock, and investors may hope Visa will be the same," said Steve Roukis, a managing director at Matrix Asset Advisors Inc in New York, which invests $1.7 billion.

 

Visa intends to set aside $3 billion of net proceeds to cover a wide variety of antitrust and other litigation.

 

These involve issuers such as American Express Co and Discover Financial Services, as well as major retailers that have accused card networks of price fixing.

 

Visa also intends to use $10.2 billion of net proceeds to redeem other shares, and the balance for general corporate purposes. It plans to pay a 10.5 cents per share quarterly dividend, for a dividend yield of about 1 per cent. (Reuters)

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