Visa: Show me the money

February 25, 2008 6:14:55 AM PST
Money, money, money. Visa is about to see plenty of it.

Visa said Monday it could raise almost $19 billion from an initial public offering, which would easily become the largest IPO in U.S. history.

San Francisco-based Visa Inc. said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it will offer 406 million shares at $37 to $42 per share. There will be an option for its underwriters to buy an extra 40.6 million shares to cover any excess demand.

The filing also showed rival credit card companies MasterCard Inc. and American Express Co. trailing Visa in transactions in 2006.

The Visa IPO, even at midpoint price, would surpass the $10.6 billion AT&T Wireless raised in 2000. It would be almost as big as the two largest past deals combined - AT&T's offering and Kraft Foods' $8.7 billion offer in 2001.

Visa would follow Mastercard from being a privately held interest to a publicly traded company. Mastercard raised $2.39 billion in its IPO nearly two years ago.

At a midpoint price, Visa could raise about $15.6 billion, or more than $17 billion if underwriters exercise their option to buy the entire lot of 40.6 million shares.

Shares of Mastercard have risen fivefold since going public and are now trading at more than $203 each.

Yet Visa's offer comes at a time of ebbing appetite for new shares. Mastercard shares have fallen more than 5.5 percent since the beginning of the month.

Visa made its initial IPO filing in June with the SEC. The shares will be listed with the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker V.


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