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(As someone who was planning on putting real money into Visa, this sure might take the wind out of that stock's (and Mastercard's) sails.) 

March 13, 2008, 7:28 am

As Visa prepares its $19 billion initial public offering for next week, Washington is mulling a move that could put a significant dent in the rosy outlook of the offering, The New York Post reported.

The newspaper said that legislators in the House recently introduced a bill that could drastically lower the interchange fee, a little-known fee charged by credit-card companies every time a consumer uses a card.

And with similar bipartisan legislation expected to be introduced in the Senate next month, Visa and its rival MasterCard are said to have hired more than a dozen lobbyists to combat the bill, The Post reported.

If it passes, the bill could deal a $570 million blow to Visa’s annual revenues and cause its earnings per share to fall by as much as 30 percent from current estimates, according to The Post.

In its offering documents, Visa notes that any change in the interchange fee could have a “material adverse impact on our revenues, operating results, prospects for future growth and overall business.”

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