Re/insurance brokerage Willis Towers Watson (WTW) has confirmed that it is exploring “strategic alternatives” for its wholesale arm, Miller, which could include a potential sale.
WTW originally acquired Miller in 2015, merging its wholesale activities with the firm but keeping the trading brand.
In return, Miller’s treaty reinsurance, UK Corporate client and Financial Institutions retail teams were assimilated into WTW.
But now both parties have said that it is time to “consider next steps for Miller to maximise growth” ahead of a possible sale of the company.
Following a sale, WTW and Miller expect to have ongoing relationships in some aspects of the business where they remain closely aligned.
Almost one year ago now, in March 2019, it was confirmed that WTW itself was the subject of acquisiton talks when the firm started early stage discussions with rival broker Aon.
However, the talks collapsed very quickly with Aon reporting that it did “not intend to pursue this business combination.”
Commentators noted that Irish regulatory requirements may have forced Aon to publicly disclose talks at an earlier stage in the consideration than it would have liked.
Its possible that after the initial rejection of this deal, the two firms were required to undergo a one-year cooling off period before entering negotiations again.
And with WTW now looking to offload part of its business just ahead of the one-year point, it could indicate that the broker is preparing for a bigger M&A deal, perhaps again with Aon.
For now, however, any underlying motivations behind the Miller sale will remain speculative, as WTW has said that it will provide no further comment until the strategic review process is complete.
Also read our follow-up article: Is Willis Towers Watson just preparing the ground for a bigger M&A deal?