Visa Leads the Dow Jones Today After Compromise with Russia

Visa (NYSE: V  ) is leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) up today after Visa and MasterCard (NYSE: MA  ) came to an agreement with Russia regarding their future in the country. Meanwhile, the market is slightly higher after Russian President Putin said he would respect the results of the vote in Ukraine on Sunday. As of 1:20 p.m. EDT the Dow was up 50 points to 16,593. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) was up six points to 1,899.

Visa is up 1.1%, while MasterCard is up 0.9%. Visa and MasterCard have been in the limelight a lot over the past few months due to the situation in Ukraine and the U.S.' sanctions on Russia. Roughly 2% of MasterCard's revenue came from Russia in the most recent quarter, while Visa counts on Russia for 3% to 4% of its revenue. Visa has over 100 million cards in Russia and has had to stop working with Russia's SMP bank after its owners were the target of sanctions.

In response to the sanctions, President Putin ordered the government to begin work on building a new payment network and drew up new laws to require payment companies to house all Russian data in Russia, pay fees of up to 25% of daily revenue for any discontinuations of service, and hold hundreds of millions of dollars at the Bank of Russia as collateral against future disruptions. Visa and MasterCard have been in discussions with Russia over these new laws, and they came closer to a compromise today.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov spoke today about Visa and MasterCard, saying, "They are ready to work within the framework of the new law, and we are ready to cooperate with them and will find a solution." The new framework, which aims to start on July 1, means the companies will have to move some operations to Russia to process payments through the existing Russian payment system. The details have to be worked out, but Russia hopes to force Visa and MasterCard to work with local providers and clear all payments within Russia.

Bottom line
As Visa CFO Byron Pollitt said a few months ago, "We have 100 million cards [in Russia] and it is not in anyone's best interest, inclusive of the Russians, to make those cards not available to their own citizens." The new laws will hurt both companies' profits in the short term but are nowhere near the hit the companies would have taken if they were forced to exit the country, which looks increasingly unlikely.

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