Retailers and card companies gear up for new clash on fees

City A.M. Reporter
VISA, Mastercard and a group of retailers plan to ask a judge this week to approve a landmark settlement of a lawsuit over credit card fees, setting the stage for a battle with Wal-Mart and hundreds of other merchants who say it is a bad deal.

Announced in July, the $7.2bn (£4.5bn) settlement is intended to resolve seven years of antitrust litigation between merchants and credit-card companies and their banks over so-called “swipe fees” that retailers pay to process credit-card transactions.

If approved, the settlement would apply to the nearly 8m merchants that take Visa and MasterCard and would be the largest federal antitrust settlement in US history.

But a number of major retailers and trade groups have objected. On Friday, 10 of the 19 trade groups and stores that led the litigation against the card companies said they would ask US District Judge John Gleeson to reject the settlement. The legal process for its approval was expected to stretch into 2013. If the objectors succeed in convincing Gleeson to reject the deal in its current form, that process could go on even longer.