Aon and Willis Towers Watson are seeing remedies discussions with the European Commission (EC) wrapping up, as the package has drawn mixed reactions from the market, sources familiar with the matter told this news service.
The two insurance brokers submitted remedies to the EC on 9 April, prompting a market test which carried on throughout the week of the 12 April. The EC is likely to have examined the input last week, potentially providing parties with feedback already, a source familiar with the process said.
The EC remedy is close to finalisation, as the package only requires a few tweaks, one of the sources said. A third party involved in the market testing said it had not heard from the EC since the middle of last week, when case officials said they were “still digesting” the results of the market test.
The focus of global merger reviews is now the US, one of the sources noted. According to reports, the parties recently submitted a remedy proposal to the US Department of Justice (DoJ). The deal also needs clearance in other jurisdictions, including Australia.
The remedy package submitted by the parties has drawn mixed reactions from the market. A third-party source said that its response was generally negative and that it had heard that other market participants had criticised the package as well.
Aon and WLTW’S EC remedy offer reportedly comprises the sale of reinsurance broker Willis Re and a number of WLTW businesses across Europe, including in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. It also includes parts of the target's aerospace, cyber and finpro specialist broking lines, according to reports.
The third-party source described the package as an odd mix of business lines and countries. Whether the package is ultimately viable may depend on how substantial the divested businesses are globally and how feasible it is to separate the business lines, the source said.
The EC was asking for feedback about specific named purchasers for the EU package in its market test, the third party said. This, it added, could be read as an indication that the agency is looking at an upfront buyer for the European assets but not for the whole package.
by Francesca Micheletti, Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro and Jacob Parry