Credit card network, Visa has said it is planning to raise a record $18 billion (9 billion pounds) in what would be the largest ever Initial Public Offering in the U.S.

Visa began a restructuring process in October 2006 and is currently owned by the banks which issue its credit cards.

Around $10.2 billion of the money raised from the IPO will go to the banks who own the network, whilst another $3 billion will be used to cover the costs of litigation that is affecting Visa.

Visa has said that it is planning to sell 406 million Class A shares at between $37 and $43 per share. The company has said that if there is enough demand it could sell a further 40.6 million shares, which could potentially mean an IPO worth $18.8 billion.

The size of Visa's proposed IPO is greater than all those that have come before. AT&T Wireless currently hold the soon-to-be-broken record after raising $10.6 billion in an IPO in 2000.

Visa's rival Mastercard raised $2.4 billion in an IPO in May 2006. Mastercard sold its shares at around $39 per share, they are now worth $200 per share.