Visa Agrees to Buy Visa Europe for $23.4B

The deal will create a windfall for the banks and other entities that now own Visa Europe, with U.K. banks alone expected to pocket $1.4 billion.
Katie Kuehner-HebertNovember 2, 2015

Visa Inc. said Monday it would buy former subsidiary Visa Europe for $23.4 billion, unifying its global operations in a move that will create a windfall for thousands of banks.

Visa and its European counterpart split in 2007 ahead of Visa’s plan to go public. Visa Europe continued to be owned by its banks and other payment service providers.

The deal to bring Visa’s global operations back under one roof “will create a windfall for the 3,000 banks, other financial firms and payment networks that now own the privately held European cooperative,” The Wall Street Journal said.

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The U.K.’s main banks could receive up to $1.4 billion between them, The Guardian reported, with Barclays  the network’s most active bank expected to make $617 million.

“We are very excited about unifying Visa into a single global company with unmatched scale, technology and services,” Visa’s chief executive Charles W. Scharf said in a news release.

He also said the deal will help accelerate the transition from cash to electronic payments throughout Europe. The companies estimate that 37% of European personal-consumption spending still occurs via cash and checks.

“There is still a tremendous opportunity to electronify payments,” Scharf noted.

Visa said it would pay 16.5 billion euros up front in cash and convertible preferred stock for Visa Europe, with potential for an additional payment of up to 4.7 billion euros based on revenue targets four years after the deal closes. Much of the savings from the deal would come from integration of technology.

Lloyds Banking Group said it expected a pretax gain of about $462 million when the deal closes, while payment services provider Worldpay Group predicted it would receive about $1.38 billion from the deal.

But Chirantan Barua, analyst at Bernstein Research, warned the deal was not a “free lunch” for Europe’s banks.

“Now that the banks will be ‘external’ to the payment system they will see their fee income margin start to be squeezed and we wouldn’t be surprised if Visa tried to increase the margins in Europe at the expense of the banks,” he told The Guardian.

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