Visa is nearing an acquisition of Visa Europe in a deal that could be announced as early as Monday, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The deal, which the newspaper reported would total $22 billion, would be Visa's largest by far, surpassing its $2 billion purchase of Cybersource in 2010. Financial institutions own Visa Europe, though Visa has an option to purchase the company. The deal could be announced Monday during Visa's earnings report, according to the Journal.

Visa and Visa Europe originally operated together as the Visa International Service Association. Visa Europe was spun off in 2007 after Visa's U.S. unit moved from bank ownership to a public company.

Visa and Visa Europe have had periodic talks over the years about a reunification. These discussions have gained momentum recently and the Journal reported struggling banks in Europe could benefit from a sale now. Barclays, for example, would receive about $1.5 billion in a sale, according to the article. Visa Europe survived the economic downturn by expanding its activities in e-commerce and other technology.

A unified Visa would pose a greater competitive threat to MasterCard, which has all of its global operations under one roof.

"Whatever price and whenever the deal happens, there is going to be some period of time during which the integration of these businesses from a technology, culture, operation point of view will take some energy, effort and dedication," said MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga of the potential Visa/Visa Europe merger during MasterCard's quarterly earnings call Thursday, according to a Thomson Financial transcript.

Visa did not return a request for comment by deadline.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry