Willis Towers Watson boss points to difficulties in merger

The SGD$24.8 billion deal came with a few headaches, according to the CEO

Willis Towers Watson boss points to difficulties in merger

Insurance News

By Terry Gangcuangco

Shares in insurance broker Willis Towers Watson are up 17% since completing the merger between Willis and Towers Watson in 2016 – so whatever unexpected integration problems it had during the first year has been worth it.

“The rationale (for the) merger still holds and we feel stronger about it than we did when we announced the merger,” Willis Tower Watson chief executive John Haley told the Financial Times while sharing what challenges they had had to face since the merger wasn’t merely about scale.

Haley, who joined the company in 1977, described the £14 billion (SGD$24.8 billion) deal as more difficult than they thought even with a well-defined integration road map in place.

“This was a scope merger in which you are providing an increased range of services, so it was more difficult. For the management team, there is a significant part of the business that you are not as familiar with,” he explained.

With the merger coinciding with a centralisation plan, Haley said “there were sometimes three or four people responsible for what one person used to be responsible for,” calling the situation a self-inflicted wound.

Thanks to a new management team, the firm’s structure was streamlined and the business was stabilised to bring out improvements starting last October.

Haley – under whose leadership the company has completed three mergers – said the deal was not made less attractive by the integration woes that came with it.

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