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Aon’s $30 billion Willis bid faces EU antitrust warning: Sources


(Reuters) – Aon PLC is set to be hit with an EU antitrust warning over its $30 billion bid for Willis Towers Watson PLC unless it offers concessions in the coming weeks, two people familiar with the matter said.

The deal, announced a year ago, would create the world’s largest insurance broker, putting the merged entity ahead of world No. 1 Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc.

The insurance industry has seen a wave of consolidation triggered by falling valuations, companies seeking to boost their business models, soaring COVID-19 related claims and other challenges such as climate change.

The European Commission, which suspended its investigation into the deal last month while waiting for Aon to provide requested information, is concerned the deal may drive up prices and hold back innovation. The EU enforcer and Aon declined to comment.

The Commission is readying a statement of objections, a charge sheet setting out possible competitive harm due to the deal, the people said.

Such a move would lengthen the EU regulatory process and potentially derail Aon’s hopes of closing the deal in the first half of this year.

Aon can stave off the charge sheet by offering concessions to address EU regulators’ concerns. The company has been in informal discussions about concessions but has not made an official offer to date, the people said.