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Willis Group Holdings P.L.C. sought to emphasize the advantages of its proposed merger with Towers Watson & Co. in the face of a Thursday night split decision from proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services Inc.
“We believe that this perspective neglects the estimated $4.7 billion in incremental value for shareholders that we expect through clearly identified cost, tax and revenue synergies,” Dominic Casserley, CEO of Willis, said in a statement Friday.
Towers also Friday said it disagrees with the recommendation that its shareholders vote against the merger.
“We respectfully disagree with the conclusion reached by ISS,” the company said in a statement.
The statements come after the proxy firm recommended that Willis shareholders vote for the deal but Towers stockholders reject it.
“Naturally we are pleased that ISS recognizes the 'strategic merits and long-term benefits of the merger,' and with their recommendation that Willis shareholders vote for the transaction,” Mr. Casserley said in the Willis statement. “However, we are disappointed with their conclusion that Towers Watson shareholders should not support the merger.”
“We firmly believe that the combination with Willis is in the best interest of our shareholders and remain committed to successfully completing the transaction,” Towers said in its statement.
Both companies' statements quoted the ISS report as saying, “The potential long-term benefits of the deal appear compelling.”
Investment adviser Driehaus Capital Management L.L.C. has sent an open letter to shareholders of Towers Watson & Co. urging them to vote against a proposed merger with Willis Group Holdings P.L.C.