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Aon in talks to buy rival Willis Towers Watson: Report


(Reuters) — Aon PLC is considering buying rival insurance brokerage Willis Towers Watson PLC, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

London-based Aon is preparing to submit a bid for Willis Towers in the coming weeks and the two companies have also held preliminary talks, the report said.

As of March 4, Aon was valued at $40.95 billion, while Willis Towers’ market value stood at $22.34 billion.

Insurers are increasingly divesting noncore parts of their business, putting valuable assets out on the market, a report by Willis Towers Watson and Mergermarket showed in October 2018.

Global insurance mergers and acquisitions had jumped to €37 billion ($42.06 billion) in the first six months of 2018, making it the highest first-half total since the financial crisis, the report from October 2018 said.

Last September, U.S. financial services group Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. agreed to buy Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group PLC, valuing the British insurance and reinsurance broker at about £4.3 billion.

The Aon-Willis merger could be the largest among insurance brokers amid volatility surrounding Britain’s impending exit from the European Union and trade tensions between Beijing and Washington threatening appetites.

Willis Group Holdings Ltd., the world’s oldest insurance broker, merged with human resources consultancy Towers Watson & Co. in 2016. The deal allowed Willis to better compete with now potential acquirer Aon and rival Marsh & McLennan.

Shares of Willis Towers Watson were up 5.04% at $181.80, while Aon was down 2.2% at $167.20 in the morning trade.

Aon and Willis Towers Watson were not immediately available for comments.





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