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Willis Towers Watson up and running after $18B merger

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Willis Towers Watson P.L.C., created by the merger of Willis Group Holdings P.L.C. and Towers Watson & Co., made its debut Tuesday after the successful completion of the $18 billion deal.

“We intend to be a company that thinks broadly along the whole dimension of helping clients manage risk and also engage their people,” said John Haley, CEO of Willis Towers Watson, speaking to Business Insurance on the firm's first morning.

Willis Towers Watson will have the opportunity “to serve our clients better, to develop talent better and to create some immediate economic benefits for our shareholders,” added Dominic Casserley, Willis Towers Watson president and deputy CEO, in an interview with Business Insurance.

The company said it expects to generate $4.7 billion in incremental value for shareholders over the next three years, including $375 million to $675 million in incremental revenue as well as $100 million to $125 million in annual merger-related cost savings and approximately $75 million in annual tax savings.

Willis and Towers Watson completed their merger Jan. 4, and shares of Willis and Towers Watson ceased trading at the close of the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, respectively, that day. Shares of Willis Towers Watson opened trading Tuesday on the NASDAQ.

With 39,000 employees in more than 120 countries, the new company had pro forma 2014 revenue of $7.30 billion and net income of $398 million, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company's four business segments — corporate risk and broking; exchange solutions; human capital and benefits; and investment, risk and reinsurance — currently serve 80% of the world's 1,000 largest companies along with many mid-market and smaller businesses around the world, Willis Towers Watson said in its statement.

James McCann, previously chairman of Willis, will head a 12-member board with six directors from each company, including Haley, previously chairman and CEO Towers Watson, and Casserley, previously CEO Willis.

A Dec. 11 shareholder vote sealed the deal, which was sweetened after some initial concerns from investors.