Visa, the world's largest card payment network, says it plans to undertake a restructuring of its operations that will eventually result in it becoming an independent publicly listed company, with its European unit separate from the rest of the organisation.
In a statement Visa says it will restructure its operations to create a new public company called, Visa Inc, which will be owned by Visa members.
Visa Inc will be created through the merger of almost all of its regional entities - Visa Canada, Visa USA and Visa International which includes the regions of Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa.
The board of Visa Inc will be comprised of a majority of independent directors. A search for independent directors and a chief executive officer for Visa Inc is underway.
However under the restructuring Visa Europe will remain a membership association, owned and governed by its European member banks, and become a licensee of Visa Inc. This will enable Visa Europe to focus on the opportunities arising from the formation of an internal market for payments in Europe through the Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa).
Says Jan Liden, chairman of the Visa Europe board of directors: "This is a European solution for Europe. It will benefit all of our stakeholders - our member banks and their customers - retailers and consumers. And it supports the European Commission's stated goal of creating European-wide payments systems."
After the mergers its regional entities are complete Visa will begin the IPO process and list its shares on a major stock exchange. The card firm expects that a majority of the shares in the reorganised company will be sold to the public.
William Campbell, chairman of the Visa International board of directors, adds: "This is a great time in Visa's history to make this transition - we continue to be a leader in the payments industry, our growth and emerging market strategies are succeeding, and the growth potential in the global payments industry is tremendous."
Visa says the boards of its six regions and Visa International unanimously approved the restructuring.
The move follows the successful IPO of Visa's rival MasterCard earlier this year. The IPO priced at $39 but MasterCard shares have since soared in trading on the New York Stock Exchange and closed at $71.91 on Tuesday.
Visa says going public will increasing access to capital, accelerate growth and also help address "certain legal claims that exist in some markets".
Both MasterCard and Visa have come under fire from retailers and regulators who have accused the card firms of setting interchange fees charged on card transactions at an unduly high rate.