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Aon’s Eric Andersen, WTW’s Julie Gebauer to lead integration

25th March 2020 - Author: Luke Gallin

Global insurance and reinsurance broker Aon has confirmed to Reinsurance News that Eric Andersen, President of Aon and Julie Gebauer, Head of Human Capital & Benefits at Willis Towers Watson (WTW), will lead the integration of the two brokerage firms.

On the 9th of March, 2020 Aon announced that a definitive agreement to combine in an all-stock transaction had been reached with rival broker WTW, a deal with an implied combined equity value of approximately $80 billion.

The acquisition of WTW by Aon brings together two huge, global and competing brokerages and while analysts have noted expected improvements in areas such as product capabilities, the significant size of the deal adds complexities and execution risk is material.

It’s now been revealed by Aon that leading the integration of the two companies will be Aon’s Andersen and WTW’s Gebauer.

Andersen was announced as President of Aon in February of this year after the departure of Michael O’Connor, the two having served as Co-President’s since 2018.

Over the past 22 years, Andersen has served in numerous key leadership roles across the industry, including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aon Benfield, and previously as CEO of Aon Risk Solutions Americas. Andersen has been steadily moving up the ranks at the re/insurance broker and it could be that he’s being lined up for the top-job in the future.

Gebauer actually started her career in the industry with Aon Hewitt Associates as an actuarial analyst and consultant, before moving to WTW in 1986. For 23 years, she served as a strategic consultant in the areas of human capital strategy, workforce analytics, employee surveys, and total reward strategy, before taking on a global business leader role from 2010 to 2015.

In 2016, Gebauer was appointed to her current role as Head of Human Capital & Benefits at WTW. Overall, she has worked at insurance and reinsurance broker WTW for 34 years.

The deal is expected to close in the first-half of next year and once finalised, the combined entity will continue to operate under the name Aon, maintaining its headquarters in London, UK.

Since the announcement, ratings agencies Moody’s and S&P Global Ratings have revised their outlooks for WTW to positive while staying stable on Aon. At the same time, Fitch Ratings has put Aon on negative watch as a result of complexities surrounding the deal with WTW.

Elsewhere, analysts have suggested that the combination of the pair is in response to technology-driven market disruption, while others have highlighted the potential for certain existing business segments to be sold in order to avoid over-concentrations in certain markets, such as reinsurance.

While huge news, the announcement of the deal between Aon and WTW has taken somewhat of a backseat in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the potential implications for the risk transfer industry.

With this in mind, Reinsurance News recently highlighted that there could be some question marks over some of the larger merger and acquisition deals announced recently, with pressures from the coronavirus outbreak driving market volatility and significant dips in share prices.

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