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Willis offers bonuses to executives to stay until Aon deal closes

Posted On: Feb. 5, 2021 1:24 PM CST

Mike Burwell

Willis Towers Watson PLC will pay over $2 million in retention bonuses to four senior executives, including Chief Financial Officer Mike Burwell, through the closing of Aon PLC’s planned acquisition of the company.

The executives will each receive six-figure cash awards on successful completion of their duties so long as the closing occurs no later than July 20, Willis Towers Watson said in an 8-K filing Friday.

The other executives are Joseph Gunn, head of Americas; Carl Hess, head of investment, risk and reinsurance; and Gene Wickes, head of benefits.

The compensation committee of the Willis Towers Watson board entered into the retention agreements on Tuesday.

Under the agreements, Mr. Burwell is eligible to earn a cash award of up to $750,000, Mr. Gunn up to $420,000 and Mr. Wickes and Mr. Hess up to $487,500 each, according to the filing.

The incentive payments will be based on the number of whole and partial months they are employed with Willis Towers Watson from Jan. 1 through the closing of Aon’s planned acquisition of the company, according to the filing.

In order to earn the retention bonus, the executives must “successfully complete all tasks and projects assigned” to them during that period, as determined by Willis Towers Watson CEO John Haley.

The executives must also not have received an offer of post-completion date employment with Aon (or one of its affiliates) to serve on Aon’s executive committee or equivalent, the filing states.

The executives will not be eligible for any portion of the retention bonuses if they decide to resign for any reason, or if their employment is terminated for cause by Willis Towers Watson in the period up to the close, the filing states.

If employment is terminated without cause prior to the closing, the executives will be entitled to receive the retention bonuses,  subject to “potential reduction depending on the number of whole and partial months the executive is employed through the termination date,” the filing states.