A:

News of Visa's plans to go public created a buzz around Wall Street as soon as the papers were filed. The credit card giant cleaned out its closets - settling lawsuits and straightening out its accounting - in hopes of having the best IPO possible. MasterCard previously had raised $2.4 billion in 2006, establishing a record for credit card company IPOs. The question wasn't whether or not Visa would better the mark, but by how much.

The consensus was that Visa would set a new IPO record, erasing the $10.6 billion raised when AT&T spun out its wireless division as a separate company. Some people even held that Visa was placed ideally to double the mark. After all, credit card use was still growing internationally, usury laws in the states were circumvented, and recent changes to the bankruptcy act removed a good portion of default risk from the books of credit card companies.

Although Visa failed to double the record, it certainly did not disappoint. On March 18, 2008, Visa's IPO came in at $17.9 billion dollars. For the individual investor, the IPO was nice to look at, but nothing to participate in. A large chunk of the wealth ended up in the pockets of issuing banks like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and others in the underwriting syndicate. The underwriting syndicate collected around half a billion dollars in fees and also held onto large blocks of shares for their portfolios. Next came the institutional buyers and funds, buying up nearly everything the banks offered up. Basically, the only way to get a chunk of Visa's IPO was to be invested in a fund that bought in.

Investors will have their chance as the stock trades on the open market, going up and down as Visa tries to fulfill the expectations that come with a $17.9 billion dollar IPO.

For more on this topic read, IPO Basics: Introduction.

This question was answered by Andrew Beattie.

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