MasterCard Worldwide's stock price rose 4.62% in midday trading today, to $293.31 per share, after MasterCard agreed to pay American Express Co. up to $1.8 billion to settle a long-running antitrust dispute (CardLine Special Bulletin, 6/25). Last year, Visa Inc. settled a similar dispute with AmEx for $2.25 billion (CardLine, 11/7/07). In the settlement AmEx announced today, MasterCard will make quarterly payments to AmEx over three years, beginning in the third quarter and running through mid-2011. MasterCard CEO Robert W. Selander said in a statement the settlement benefits shareholders by "eliminating the uncertainty, time commitment and expense of a prolonged court case." Eva Weber, an analyst for Boston-based Aite Group, tells CardLine that "resolving a big case and putting a dollar amount on damages like these is a positive for MasterCard." Under the agreement, AmEx will drop MasterCard from its lawsuit, which alleged that MasterCard and Visa colluded to prevent AmEx from issuing bankcards in the United States. AmEx filed the lawsuit shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower-court ruling in an antitrust case won by the U.S. Department of Justice. In that case, the courts ruled that Visa's and MasterCard's exclusionary rules were anticompetitive, and the decision forced the card brands to allow their member banks to issue AmEx and Discover cards on the rivals' networks. Though AmEx stands to gain $4 billion from the two settlements, the company's stock price was down 0.67% in midday trading today, to $41.82 per share. Earlier this month, court documents revealed Discover is seeking a combined $6 billion from Visa and MasterCard in a similar suit it filed in 2004 after the DOJ won its case (CardLine, 6/10).

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