Heartland Payment Systems Inc. and Visa Inc. have reached a settlement agreement in which Heartland will pay Visa's issuing partners up to $60 million for damages related to a 2008 breach of Heartland's network.

Visa will send settlement offers to affected issuers, which have until Jan. 29 to decide whether to accept them, Heartland said last week.

Heartland disclosed in January of last year that it had found a breach of its payment network. In December, Albert Gonzalez, of Miami, pleaded guilty to masterminding the attack as well as breaches at Hannaford Bros. Co., 7-Eleven Inc. and two unnamed retailers.

Issuers participating in the settlement will be reimbursed based on their breach-related costs and must release their legal claims against Heartland, its sponsoring banks and Visa.

Heartland reached similar settlements last month with American Express Co., for $3.6 million, and with cardholders, for $2.4 million.

Robert Dodd, an analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co., predicted that Heartland could end up paying a total of up to $100 million in settlements related to the data breach.

David Koning, a senior research analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., said similar deals with MasterCard Inc. and Discover Financial Services are likely in the works. "It's good to have Visa out of the way, given that it's the biggest card brand," he said.