MasterCard Pays Off Settlement with $335M - TheStreet

Update include more lawsuit details.


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plans to pay $335 million by the end of the third quarter to pay off the rest of its settlement of a class action suit alleging the electronic payments company violated federal antitrust regulations.

The Purchase, N.Y.-based company settled the suit in June 2003 with a number of U.S. merchants that took issue with certain antitrust aspects of the payment card industry. Under the settlement, MasterCard was required to pay $125 million in 2003 and $100 million annually each December from 2004 through 2012.

Retailers, including

Wal-Mart Stores

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, brought an antitrust suit against MasterCard and


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in 1996. They claimed that the associations violated antitrust laws by "tying acceptance of debit to

the acceptance of credit

cards," MasterCard said in an old release.

"As a remedy the merchants sought billions of dollars in damages as well as the right to elect not to accept MasterCard branded debit cards while accepting MasterCard credit or charge cards," the release said.

MasterCard said in a

Securities and Exchange Commission

filing on Thursday that it had entered into an agreement the prior day that would allow the company to prepay its obligations of the remaining $400 million at a discounted amount of $335 million on Sept. 30.

The agreement is subject to court approval, MasterCard said in the filing.

Separately, in 1998, the Justice Department sued Visa and MasterCard for limiting competition in the U.S. credit card market. Four years later, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the two electronic processors could no longer bar member banks from issuing cards on rival networks like

American Express

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Discover Financial

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. Visa and MasterCard had tried to appeal the ruling many times, but was finally rejected by the Supreme Court in 2004.

The companies agreed to final settlements in the past year.

MasterCard were up fractionally in recent trading.