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Aon’s $30B bid for Willis Towers Watson faces EU probe


(Reuters) — The European Union’s antitrust regulators are to open a full-scale investigation into Aon PLC’s $30 billion bid for Willis Towers Watson PLC to create the world’s largest insurance broker, two people familiar with the matter said.

The all-stock deal, which would merge two of the world’s largest brokers, has attracted regulatory scrutiny due to concerns it would give the combined group increased pricing power.

A full probe by the EU’s executive, the European Commission, would follow a preliminary review due to end on Dec. 21. The Commission declined to comment, as did Aon and Willis. A full-scale EU investigation normally takes about five months.

Aon did not provide concessions on Monday, the deadline for doing so in the preliminary phase to address EU competition concerns, the EU competition enforcer’s website showed. The company’s chief executive, Greg Case, said in March when the deal was announced that Aon was confident the deal would go through.

Aon’s swoop for Willis, which would see it overtake Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. as the world’s biggest broker, came just as financial markets were sliding as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

This is Aon’s second attempt at acquiring Willis Towers. It dropped an earlier bid last year after media reports broke the news.

More insurance and risk management news on the coronavirus crisis here.










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