Aon-WTW deal hitch: Gallagher group boss delivers reaction

Aon-WTW deal hitch: Gallagher group boss delivers reaction | Insurance Business New Zealand

Aon-WTW deal hitch: Gallagher group boss delivers reaction

It was last month when it was announced that, as part of a proposed regulatory remedy for the pending combination of Aon Plc and Willis Towers Watson (WTW), Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (AJG) would be snapping up certain WTW reinsurance, specialty, and retail brokerage operations.

Now, with the wider merger’s fate hanging in the balance after being hit with an antitrust suit in the US, AJG chair, president, and chief executive J. Patrick Gallagher, Jr. is hoping for a speedy resolution for everyone.

“Any delay, clearly, is not in the favour of the three parties that are trying to do this transaction,” said Gallagher during the Q&A portion of AJG’s investor meeting with management on Thursday. “We would hope that this would be resolved as quickly as possible.

“I know that it now involves litigation, which is too bad that that is a setback, but we remain committed to the transaction; we hope that it’ll close. We’re ready to do the purchase when the regulators have said it’s OK.”

AJG’s US$3.57 billion acquisition agreement spans part of Willis Re’s treaty and facultative reinsurance brokerage operations, as well as certain UK specialty, European, and North American brokerage operations. In his opening remarks at the June 17 investor meeting, Gallagher reiterated the benefits of the WTW swoop.

“Obviously we would prefer all regulators approve the Aon-Willis combination expeditiously, but we’ve known there could be some hurdles,” Gallagher told attendees of the event, which lasted for one and a half hours.

“Regardless,” he continued, “I believe [the WTW] transaction accelerates our strategy on a number of fronts – our 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. 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.”

Gallagher, who said he loves AJG’s competitive position, is keen to welcome the roster from the WTW camp.

“We have had a chance to [engage] with our potential new teammates from Willis,” he also noted during the Q&A. “I think we’ve done a good job of trying to explain where Gallagher is and where it’s going, and hopefully we’ve got potential teammates there who are excited.”

Now it’s all just a matter of ‘if and when’.