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Willis, Towers Watson to merge in all-stock deal

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Willis Group Holdings P.L.C. and Towers Watson & Co. have agreed to merge in a deal valued at about $18 billion, the companies announced Tuesday.

The boards of the two companies unanimously have agreed the merger, they announced, and the combined company will be known as Willis Towers Watson.

James McCann, Willis’ nonexecutive chairman, will become chairman of the combined company; John Haley, currently chairman and CEO of Towers Watson, will become CEO; and Dominic Casserley, CEO of Willis, will become president and deputy CEO.

The all-stock transaction, which is expected to close on Dec. 31, will see shareholders of London-based brokerage Willis own about 50.1% of the combined company, while shareholders of New York-based risk management and human resources consultancy Towers Watson will hold about 49.9% of the combined company.

The combined company will have about 39,000 employees in 120 countries and pro forma revenue of about $8.2 billion 2014, the companies said in a statement.

The two companies said they expected the deal to result in cost savings of about $100 million to $125 million within three years of the deal closing.

“The rationale for the merger is powerful — at one stroke, the combination fast-tracks each company’s growth strategy and offers a truly compelling value proposition to our clients,” Mr. Casserley said in the statement.

“We look forward to bringing Towers Watson’s innovative solutions to our clients alongside our broking and advisory services. The opportunity to deliver significant savings to our growing middle-market client base with Towers Watson’s market-leading private exchange platform is particularly attractive,” he added.

“This is a tremendous combination of two highly compatible companies with complementary strategic priorities, product and service offerings, and geographies that we expect to deliver significant value for both sets of shareholders,” Mr. Haley said in the statement.

“We see numerous opportunities to enhance our growth profile by offering integrated solutions that leverage Willis’ global distribution network and superb risk advisory and re/insurance broking capabilities to deliver a more robust set of analytics and product solutions across a broader client base,” he added.