Aon plc and Willis Towers Watson say they are "fully committed" to their mega-merger, despite the news that the U.S. Department of Justice is suing to block it.
The Biden administration announced the lawsuit Wednesday to block the merger of two of the world’s largest insurance brokers, asserting the deal could eliminate competition, raise prices and hamper innovation for U.S. businesses, employers and unions that use the companies’ services.
The Justice Department filed the antitrust suit in federal court in Washington seeking to stop Aon’s proposed $30 billion acquisition of rival benefits and risk consultant Willis Towers Watson.
The proposed merger would bring together two of the “Big Three” global insurance brokers — the third is Marsh & McLennon — and eliminate competition in five markets, Justice Department officials said.
Aon and Willis Towers Watson agreed to divest some of its assets in a bid for a separate approval for the merger from European Union authorities. But Justice Department officials said Wednesday those would not be sufficient to protect U.S. consumers.
The two companies shared the following statement in response to the Department of Justice lawsuit:
“We disagree with the U.S. Department of Justice’s action, which reflects a lack of understanding of our business, the clients we serve and the marketplaces in which we operate.
Aon and Willis Towers Watson operate across broad, competitive areas of the economy and our proposed combination will accelerate innovation on behalf of clients creating more choice in an already dynamic and competitive marketplace. While this proposed combination was not developed with the pandemic in mind, the impact of the pandemic underscores the need to address similar systemic risks including cyber threats, climate change and the growing health and wealth gap which our combined firm will more capably address.
We continue to make material progress with other regulators around the world and remain fully committed to the benefits of our combination.
We are grateful to our respective colleagues for the work they have done to support our respective clients and each other throughout this process, as evidenced by the excellent performance of Aon and Willis Towers Watson since the announcement of the proposed combination.”