Willis Tower owner merging with Towers Watson in $18 billion deal

SHARE Willis Tower owner merging with Towers Watson in $18 billion deal
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This Friday, June 3, 2011, file photo, shows the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, in Chicago. Insurance company Willis Group Holdings PLC announced Tuesday, June 30, 2015, it is buying Towers Watson in an all-stock deal valued at about $18 billion.

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — The insurer Willis Group HoldingsPLC will tie up with Towers Watson in an all-stock deal valued at about $18 billion.

The combined company will be called WillisTowers Watson and will have about $8.2 billion in revenue and approximately 39,000 employees. Willisshareholders will own approximately 50.1 percent, and Towers Watson shareholders will own about 49.9 percent of the business.

The company will be based in Ireland, where Willishas its headquarters. Towers Watson is based in Arlington, Virginia.

Willis upset many Chicagoans by purchasing the naming rights to the Sears Tower and renaming it the Willis Tower when it leased space in the iconic building in 2009.

Willis and Towers expect between $100 million and $125 million in cost savings within three years of closing.

Shareholders of financial services company Towers Watson & Co. will receive 2.6490 Willisshares for each Towers share. They will also receive a one-time cash dividend of $4.87 per Towers share.

Willis expects to enact a reverse stock split that would result in oneWillisshare being converted into 0.3775WillisTowers Watson shares. If the reverse stock split is approved by shareholders, Towers Watson shareholders will receive one share ofWillisTowers Watson for each Towers Watson share.

The deal is not contingent onWillisshareholders approving the reverse stock split.

Towers Watson Chairman and CEO John Haley will serve as CEO, whileWillisCEO Dominic Casserley will become president and deputy CEO.

The new board will have 12 members, with six directors being nominated by each company.

The boards of both companies unanimously approved the deal, which is targeted to close by year’s end.

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