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Visa Europe members exploring sale to Visa: WSJ

Regular, platinum and gold Visa cards are displayed in New York March 18, 2008. REUTERS/Chip East
Regular, platinum and gold Visa cards are displayed in New York March 18, 2008. REUTERS/Chip East

(Reuters) - Visa Europe's owners may decide to sell the credit card company to U.S.-based Visa Inc and set up a rival system in Europe, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Visa Europe, which is owned and operated by more than 3,700 European member banks, is the European licensee of Visa Inc and is the largest card network in the 27-country European Union.

A Visa Europe board meeting to discuss the possible sale is scheduled for April, and a decision might be made then, the report quoted the people as saying. (http://r.reuters.com/jan76t)

In the event of a possible sale, the business could be valued at about $3 billion, the Journal reported.

Visa has a call option to buy shares in Visa Europe, while Visa Europe members have a put option to sell shares to Visa.

A Visa Europe spokesman told Reuters the company does not "comment on speculation". Visa Inc was not immediately available to comment on the report.

Visa Inc shares were trading flat at $158.35 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Aman Shah in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon)

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