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Aon Shelves Bid to Purchase WTW

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Aon in March 2019 announced, then cancelled plans to merge with Willis Towers Watson (WTW) in what would have been the industry’s largest ever merger.

The cancellation announcement was made just one day after Aon announced it was considering a takeover bid for WTW. According to a statement released on Tuesday, March 5, Aon was in the early stages of exploring an all-share tie-up with WTW, and indicated that they were prepared to hold preliminary talks and submit a bid in the coming weeks.

Shares of WTW jumped as much as 8.6 percent to their highest price ever. They closed up 5.2 percent to $182.04 in New York trading, valuing the company at about $24 billion. Aon fell 7.8 percent to a market value of about $38 billion. At the time, a spokesman for WTW said the company doesn’t comment on market rumors and speculation.

The Wednesday, March 6 statement was issued because WTW is subject to Irish regulatory requirements. Aon said it had to make the disclosure “at a very early stage in the consideration” and reserves the right within the next 12 months to set aside the March 6 announcement where permitted under Irish takeover rules.

Regulatory requirements will make any takeover of WTW by Aon difficult, given that Aon and WTW are the second- and third-largest global insurance brokerages and consulting firms.

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