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Visa Inc (NYSE:V) may have to cough up between $3 billion – $11 billion to purchase its Visa Europe card system if the European banks and financial groups that control its majority holding decide to exercise a put option to sell the shares to Visa. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, these entities are seeking an exit from Visa Europe because they intend to set up their own system for processing payments such as credit and debit cards. If this happens, Visa Inc could immediately add scale to its international operations, giving it more muscle against rivals such as smaller MasterCard (NYSE:MA). On the flip side, the large size of the purchase means it might have to borrow funds or sell stock, and there could be pressure on its profitability. It could also expose Visa to new regulations on transaction charges being considered by European regulators, not to mention the current sovereign debt crisis. There could be also integration and technology issues because it would have to convert Visa Europe’s bank clients onto its own processing platform. A decision would likely emerge from Visa Europe at its board meeting scheduled next month. Nearer home, Visa announced a coup in its efforts to develop its ‘V.me’ digital wallet service along the lines of PayPal (NASDAQ:EBAY) when it signed on Overstock.com as a retailer to use the service. Overstock is reputed to chalk up an annual turnover of about $1 billion through sales of jewelry, electronics, cars and furniture. As of now, V.me has 35 online merchants subscribed, and another 132 online merchants are scheduled to go live shortly.
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