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Aon / Willis Towers Watson: EC restarts clock as concessions offered

12th April 2021 - Author: Steve Evans

The European Commission (EC) has restarted the clock on its investigation into the proposed combination of Aon and Willis Towers Watson (WTW), after concessions were submitted on April 9th, but the deadline for completion has now been pushed into the second-half of the year.

aon-willis-towers-watson-merger-antitrustThe regulators have been looking into the proposed $30 billion merging of insurance and reinsurance broking giants Aon and Willis Towers Watson (WTW), but halted its investigation to await more data from the brokers back in February.

As we’d previously explained, competition related concerns have been said to be rising, with the European Commission reported ready to raise antitrust concerns and in the process of preparing a statement of objections, a charge sheet explaining potential competitive harm as a result of the mega-merger.

The merger parties, Aon and Willis Towers Watson, were said by our sources to be keen to get ahead of any statement of objections, with an offer being readied.

Reports then emerged in late March that this remedy package was being constructed for submission to the European Commission, which as we said at the time was making progress.

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Now, that package of proposed concessions, which the EC terms “commitments” were submitted on April 9th, according to the regulators website.

Which has caused the EC to restart the clock, with the deadline suspension now having ended also on April 9th, while the provisional deadline for the merger completion has now been fixed at July 12th.

Originally, the European Commission had a deadline of May 10th, 2021 to decide on the proposed merger, so it now looks possible that closure won’t happen until the second-half of the year.

No details of the specific concessions, or commitments, made have been reported by the EC and whatever the package is will now be analysed by the competition regulator to see if it satisfies any concerns they had been preparing to raise.

Recent reports suggested that a sale of Willis Re remains a likely component of any divestiture proposals, along with reports that WTW’s commercial broking unit Gras Savoye in France may be in any package as well.

As we reported Friday, the Singapore competition regulator is also assessing the deal, as the latest international watchdog to request feedback on Aon’s proposed acquisition of WTW.

Also of note, specialist antitrust and M&A publisher CTFN’s Diane Alter reported on Friday that the European regulator may be readying “market testing” of a proposed remedy package this week, which appears likely now that the EC has confirmed receipt of commitments from the parties.

Read our previous coverage of the Aon and Willis Towers Watson merger here.

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