Wal-Mart Stores, the world's biggest retailer, chose MasterCard to handle transactions for the merchant's store-branded credit cards.

The Sam's Club warehouse unit also extended its agreement with General Electric Co.'s retail finance unit to provide the retailer's store-branded cards in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart said today in a statement.

MasterCard is the second-biggest U.S. payments network after Visa Inc., which was sued by Wal-Mart last week for allegedly conspiring with banks to fix transaction fees. The retailer, which has been fighting with both networks in court for more than a decade, seeks at least $5 billion in damages from Visa, claiming violations of federal antitrust laws.

Wal-Mart has had a relationship with Discover Financial Services since 2005, when the network, then a unit of New York- based Morgan Stanley, reached an agreement with the retailer and GE's finance arm to introduce a credit card targeting the merchant's 100 million customers.

About three months earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court rebuffed an effort by Visa and Purchase, New York-based MasterCard to prevent their 34,000 member banks from issuing cards on competing networks, including Discover and New York-based American Express Co.

MasterCard fell 0.3 percent to $74.31 at 7:49 a.m. in early trading in New York, before the change was announced. Discover, based in Riverwoods, Illinois, rose 0.5 percent to $59.45 yesterday in New York.

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