Aon rules out Willis Towers Watson bid

March 7 2019 by Andrew Tjaardstra

Aon’s senior management has decided not to pursue its talks with Willis Towers Watson regarding a potential merger or acquisition.

Aon released the following statement: “Consistent with Aon’s stated focus on return on invested capital the firm regularly evaluates a variety of potential opportunities within and adjacent to its industry. Aon had considered such a possibility with regard to Willis Towers Watson.

“News of that consideration subsequently became public and Aon was required to issue a statement because Willis Towers Watson is an Irish company and is subject to Irish regulatory requirements.”

The statement continued: “As a result of media speculation, those regulations required Aon to make the disclosure at a very early stage in the consideration of a potential all-share business combination. Aon today confirms that it does not intend to pursue this business combination.”

Aon’s shares fell 7.8% after news broke of the potential deal on March 5 and Aon’s shares rebounded yesterday up 4.3% on the news it had stopped negotiations.

Any tie-up would have been complex to pull off as, in addition to the financing, there would have been a host of regulatory issues to deal with. The two broking giants already control significant portions of their respective markets in both corporate broking and reinsurance broking.

Marsh and McLennan’s acquisition of JLT has already seen the latter having to sell its global aerospace division to Arthur J Gallagher to satisfy the European Commission.

Under M&A rules Aon cannot approach Willis Towers Watson for the next 12 months about a deal, but Willis Towers Watson could still approach Aon about potentially reviving talks.

 

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