Aon and Willis Towers Watson have agreed to terminate their proposed merger and end litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The merger, which was first announced in March 2020 and received shareholder approval in August 2020, was challenged last month, with the DOJ asserting the deal could eliminate competition, raise prices and hamper innovation for U.S. businesses, employers and unions that use the two consultancies’ services.
“Despite regulatory momentum around the world, including the recent approval of our combination by the European Commission, we reached an impasse with the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Greg Case, chief executive officer at Aon, in a press release. “The DOJ position overlooks that our complementary businesses operate across broad, competitive areas of the economy. We’re confident that the combination would have accelerated our shared ability to innovate on behalf of clients, but the inability to secure an expedited resolution of the litigation brought us to this point.”
In connection with the termination of the merger agreement, Aon will pay the $1-billion termination fee to Willis Towers Watson and both organizations will move forward independently. Both consultancies will provide further financial updates and outlooks on their respective, upcoming Q2 2021 earnings calls, according to the release.
“Going forward, our focus remains steadfast on our colleagues, our clients and our shareholders,” said John Haley, CEO of Willis Towers Watson. “We believe we’re well positioned to compete vigorously across our businesses around the world and will continue to introduce important innovations to the market. We appreciate and deeply respect all the Aon colleagues we got to know through this process.”