UPDATE 1-Aon wins EU green light for $ 30 billion deal with Willis, with conditions

(Adds a comment from Aon and Willis, background on US regulators)

By Foo Yun Chee and Alwyn Scott

BRUSSELS / NEW YORK, July 9 (Reuters) – EU antitrust regulators on Friday approved Aon’s $ 30 billion offer for Willis Towers Watson after agreeing to sell key parts of Willis’ business to compete with Arthur J. Gallagher in exchange for the EU Light Green.

The deal will put London-headquartered Aon ahead of the world’s largest insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc and comes as insurers grapple with growing claims and new challenges brought on by the pandemic of COVID-19 and climate change.

The European Commission said the asset sales would make Arthur J. Gallagher a credible rival for the combined company.

“The commitments will strengthen Gallagher in its reinsurance and commercial risk brokerage capabilities and improve its footprint in the European Economic Area,” the EU competition chief said in a statement.

Reuters exclusively reported on April 28 that the Commission would give conditional approval to the deal.

Aon and Willis warned in a joint statement that the deal has yet to go through further regulatory approvals, most notably in the United States, where antitrust regulators filed a lawsuit last month to block the merger.

But the companies said the EU approval “demonstrates continued progress towards obtaining regulatory clearances.”

On June 16, the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to prevent Aon’s acquisition of Willis, saying it would lessen competition and could lead to higher prices. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Alwyn Scott in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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