The VISA IPO Paradox: IPO or Bailout?

March 19, 2008 7:44 am

The VISA (V) IPO is coming and it is going to be BIG. A few days ago, I speculated here that the IPO may be pushed back as the markets were in no mood for an IPO even as few have been brought to market of late. It was, and is, not the most opportune time as investor’s are frazzled and institutions are disquiet during what is shaping up to be a historic and cataclysmic economic event born out of our general debauched view of leverage. (Barry Ritholtz: thanks for the Thesaurus idea- I hope I didn’t embarrass myself!)

So, what does that mean for Visa? If you look at the proceed distribution, according to Dealbook, it is rather interesting to note that $1.25 billion goes to:

Even so, the offering will generate a windfall for Visa’s thousands of member banks, which own the company. JPMorgan Chase is expected to reap about $1.25 billion, while Bank of America, National City, Citigroup, U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo are likely to receive several hundred million dollars each.

Wall Street firms, in the meantime, stand to collect upward of $500 million in underwriting fees from the sale.

At the same time over 75% of the recent IPOs that had been scheduled have been postponed or cancelled as the market is not capable of capitalizing new issues when it it is so close to margin calls. VISA’s get-it-to-market-and-fast attitude for their IPO is a flagrant and obvious bailout for a few of the institutional beneficiaries. Time is the ultimate enemy in this mêlée against insolvency. The money is needed and it is needed NOW!

So, the VISA IPO is a GO!; no matter how much better it would have priced if times were different. I think that with the potential for insolvency increasing, postponing could be a prove disastrous for one or two of the member banks desperately needing a fast infusion of cash to continue business as “usual.”

(V) (BAC) (NCC) (JPM) (C) (USB) (WFC)

Disclosure: Clients of Horowitz & Company clients hold positions of BAC as of the date of publish.

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