Visa Inc. has reached an agreement to buy Visa Europe for €16.5 billion, with the potential for this to rise by an extra €4.7b depending on the company’s performance four years after the conclusion of the deal.

This will consolidate the two companies after being apart for eight years. Visa Inc. has operated as a profit making business, while Visa Europe is an association run by member banks in Europe and its payment service providers. Visa Europe is the leading payment method in Europe, and Visa Inc. holds the majority market share in debit cards in the US and a third of the credit card marketplace.

Visa Inc. operates in North and South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Australia, India, Africa and large parts of Europe.

The combined company will handle upwards of €5 trillion in payment volumes per year, from over 70 billion transactions. The decision to merge the companies was unanimous by both boards of directors. In a statement, Visa Inc.’s CEO Charles W. Scharf explained the benefit of the deal to financial institutions, acquirers, merchants, cardholders, shareholders and other partners. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval, but both companies are confident of a favourable outcome.