Aon/Willis Towers Watson: EC Said Set to Approve Remedies, With Vestager On Board

Published on May 07, 2021

The European Commission is set to approve remedies proposed by Aon (AON) to secure regulatory approval for the company’s $30 billion acquisition of rival Willis Towers Watson (WLTW), The Capitol Forum has learned.

EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager is said to be on board with the remedies, paving the way for EC clearance without a Statement of Objections.

The commission on Monday extended its in-depth probe of the deal by five working days to August 3. Despite that short extension, the EC is said to be satisfied that the concessions adequately address its misgivings about the transaction.

Final commission approval is still expected to take some weeks given the early August deadline. The EC often takes phase II decisions only a week or two ahead of the ultimate review deadline, though the watchdog did clear the recent merger between carmakers Groupe PSA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles some 24 working days early.

Aon has continued to tell investors that it expects to close the transaction by June 30.

With the EC hurdle in Aon’s rear view mirror, the company’s attention will be firmly focused on the next move by the U.S. DOJ, which is also reviewing the deal and has been informed of Vestager’s view on the remedies. Rival brokerage Arthur J. Gallagher reportedly is close to agreeing to a deal with Aon to buy at least some of the divested assets.

To secure EC clearance, Aon has offered to sell a plethora of assets including Willis’ reinsurance business, insurance broking assets in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and France, and global aerospace manufacturers and space insurance broking businesses.

Australian and New Zealand competition enforcers also are reviewing the deal.

Spokespeople for EC, DOJ and Aon declined to comment. A Willis Towers Watson spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.