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Marsh shares rise amid buyout rumors


NEW YORK--Shares of Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. rose 3.7% Tuesday amid rumors, reported by Reuters and other media outlets, that the New York-based brokerage is ripe for a buyout.

Speculation about a buyout of MMC first emerged last year following news that Willis Group Holdings Ltd. made an unsolicited, informal offer to acquire MMC over the summer (BI, Oct. 23, 2006).

A spokeswoman for MMC declined to comment.

Rob Haines, a senior analyst with credit research firm CreditSights in New York, said he views the likelihood of an MMC buyout at less than 50%, but noted he "wouldn't be shocked" if it happened.

"More and more as the deals get bigger, a Marsh Mac deal isn't impossible anymore," he said. "You're looking at a $25 billion dollar deal, give or take a little. That's huge, but it's not undoable."

Shares rose $1.12 Tuesday, or 3.7%, closing at $31.50. The price then climbed to $32.15 in early trading Wednesday but ended the day at $31.65.