Wal-Mart among retailers opting out of Visa, MasterCard deal

Posted: May 21, 2013 at 2:04 p.m.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Starbucks Corp. are among 19 companies opting out of a $7.25 billion antitrust settlement with Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. over fees charged to merchants to process credit-card transactions.

The proposed settlement maintains and strengthens an anticompetitive system that allows Visa and MasterCard to fix so-called interchange fees for banks, the companies said Tuesday in a statement.

The proposed settlement, estimated to be the largest-ever U.S. antitrust accord, has drawn criticism from trade associations and retailers, which contend that it grants the card companies too much leeway to raise rates in the future.

Bentonville-based Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said in a statement in July that it was "disappointed" in the settlement and would encourage merchants to reject the deal.

Other companies joining with Wal-Mart and Starbucks include Gap Inc., Lowe's Cos. and Costco Wholesale Corp., according to the statement.

The case is In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, 05-md-01720, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).