WASHINGTON, June 16 (Reuters) – The US Department of Justice on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to prevent insurance broker Aon (AON.N) from acquiring Willis Towers Watson for $ 30 billion, as it would reduce competition and could lead to higher prices.
The deal would combine the second and third largest of the world’s “big three” insurance brokers, the department said. The third is Marsh McLennan.
Aon and Willis, which were formed through a merger in 2016, have set up insurance contracts for clients involving a number of insurance providers, for coverage ranging from airlines to major sporting events.
The complaint quotes an anonymous Aon executive who told his colleagues: “We have more leverage than we think and we will have even more when (the) Willis deal is done … We operate in an oligopoly. that not everyone understands. “
The complaint, filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, listed five areas of concern, including identifying appropriate health insurance plans for large customers and plans for property, casualty. and financial risks for large customers.
In a joint statement, Aon and Willis said they disagreed with the Justice Department’s action, “reflecting a lack of understanding of our business, the customers we serve and the markets. on which we operate “.
The companies added, “We continue to make significant progress with other regulators around the world and remain fully committed to the benefits of our combination. “
This month, Aon announced that it had sold some assets to private equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners and tech firm Alight for $ 1.4 billion, in a bid to gain US approval. . read more The ministry called the proposed divestments insufficient.
“American businesses and consumers rely on competition between Aon and Willis Towers Watson to lower the prices of essential services, such as health and retirement counseling,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
The deal was due to get the EU’s antitrust green light within weeks. read more Reuters reported on April 28 that the European Commission would clear the mega-deal after Aon offered to sell substantial assets.
Aon, headquartered in London, struck the deal a year ago to create the world’s largest insurance broker ahead of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc (MMC.N). Insurers have been under pressure by the increase in claims and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
Reporting by Diane Bartz Editing by Chris Reese
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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