J. Patrick Gallagher, Jr. Chairman, President and CEO at Arthur J Gallagher, has said that the company remains “wide open” to taking on more business from the pending merger between Aon and Willis Towers Watson (WTW), should it be offered up as part of a further remedy package.
It was confirmed last month that Gallagher would acquire reinsurance broking unit Willis Re and other assets from WTW for $3.57 billion in order to satisfy EU competition concerns over the $30 billion combination with Aon.
But now, during a recent investor day call, Gallagher’s CEO has confirmed that the company “would by very well inclined to take on more of their business” if it becomes available.
Commenting on the delayed Aon / WTW merger, Gallagher said he would prefer the deal to be approved “expeditiously” but recognised there could be more regulatory hurdles ahead.
For instance, just yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block the deal, stating that it threatens to eliminate competition, increase prices, and ultimately create a “broking behemoth.”
“Any delay clearly is not in the favour of the three parties that are trying to do this transaction,” Gallagher said when questioned about the potential timeframe of the transaction.
“And, I think, the fact is that we would hope that this would be resolved as quickly as possible. I know that it now involves litigation which is too bad. That is a setback. But we remain committed to the transaction, we hope that it will close and we’re ready to do the purchase when the regulators have said it’s okay.”
“It’s exciting to think about the possibilities of what we can do as a combined organisation, and we are looking forward to completing the transaction,” he continued.
“As I’ve said, I believe this transaction accelerates our strategy on a number of fronts; reinsurance offerings, geographic expansion, our industry niche practice groups, product verticals and our large account risk management offerings. Most importantly, the 6,000 new colleagues combined with our 34,000 Associates, would further enhance our ability to deliver our clients creativity, ideas, expertise and capabilities.”
In response to the recent DOJ announcement, Aon and WTW have said that they disagree with the action, “which reflects a lack of understanding of our business, the clients we serve and the marketplaces in which we operate.”
The move has been perceived as a major blow to the completion of their combination, particularly after reports emerged claiming the mega-merger is expected to gain the approval needed to go ahead in Europe.