Things move fast in mergers and acquisitions and it’s now been reported by Reuters that Aon is likely to get conditional approval from the European Commission for its acquisition of Willis Towers Watson (WTW), without a statement of objections being published and with only a few tweaks to its proposed package of concessions.
Reuters sources said that sources told it that the package of concessions offered to the European Commission earlier this month are likely to prove adequate, although also saying that some tweaks to the remedy package have been requested by the EC antitrust regulators.
As we explained earlier, feedback had been sought from competitors and clients of the insurance and reinsurance broking giants by the EC, but it would seem no serious objections have been raised.
Reuters reports that aside from a few tweaks, no further concessions are likely to be asked for, its sources said, while the threat of a statement of objections charge sheet being published now looks to have been avoided, the publisher explained.
Our sources said Aon had been keen to avoid the publication of a statement of objections, as that can lead to the disclosure of much more information than the broker may have been comfortable with.
The remedy package of concessions offered is widely said to have included Willis Towers Watson’s reinsurance broking unit Willis Re.
It seems likely that Aon’s concessions offer to the EC was sufficiently large to assuage concerns of the regulator and as it didn’t receive particularly negative feedback in market testing, the next step would be to proceed towards an approval, perhaps with some stipulations that mean tweaks are in order.
The EC doesn’t need to make its decision public until July 27th 2021, as it had pushed back its deadline for deciding on the Aon and WTW merger.
But if the decision is already close to being made, it seems likely this could come well in advance of this date.
As we’d previously suggested, the fact the EC package of concessions was seen as quite large may have made the requests from other antitrust regulators, such as the US Department of Justice less significant, as the EC package may answer some of the questions asked by these other deliberating territories as well.
So approval from the EC may be the most significant step on the path to Aon getting global approval to proceed with its combination with Willis Towers Watson, meaning perhaps the largest hurdle is now close to being cleared, if Reuters sourced information is accurate.