The European Commission (EC) has reportedly halted its investigation into the proposed combination of Aon and Willis Towers Watson (WTW) while it waits for more data from the broker, reports Reuters.
The EC confirmed back in December that it would conduct an in-depth investigation of the transaction over concerns it could have negative implications for competition.
Now, Reuters has reported that EU antitrust regulators have suspended their investigation while they await data needed for the probe.
A spokeswoman for the EC, commented: “This procedure in merger investigations is activated if the parties fail to provide, in a timely fashion, an important piece of information that the Commission has requested from them.
“Once the missing information is supplied by the parties, the clock is re-started and the deadline for the Commission’s decision is then adjusted accordingly.”
It’s understood that missing information led to the review being paused, although such pauses are often routine during the Phase II review process.
Originally, the EC had a deadline of May 10th, 2021 to make a decision on the proposed merger. However, the EC’s website states, “Deadline suspended under Article 11(3) from 08.02.2021,” which effectively means that the provisional deadline they had originally been targeting is suspended.
In light of this, there’s no guarantee of the competition investigation being completed by that date now, so it could delay the closing of the merger.
Executives from both Aon and WTW have said in their Q4 earnings calls last week that they are confident of the merger closing in the first half of 2021. Although, those statements did come out before the news on the EC halting the deadline.