Giant Towers Watson listed

TOWERS Watson begins trading as the world's largest employee benefits consultancy today, pushing Mercer into second place.

The firm, the fruit of a $4bn (£2.5bn) merger between Watson Wyatt and Towers Perrin, listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq this morning.

In a statement, Towers Watson said it would issue $200m in cash and oneyear notes worth a further $200m to certain shareholders who chose to end their employment with Towers Perrin as a result of the deal.

With 14,000 employees and revenues of more than $3bn a year, Towers Watson will be a major player in the human resources space. Watson Wyatt chief executive John Haley becomes CEO of the merged entity, while Towers Perrin CEO Mark Mactas will serve as chief operating officer. Both men hailed the tie-up, claiming Towers Watson would be "uniquely positioned" to deliver value to clients and shareholders.

However, analysts have remarked that the merger reflect the hard times faced by the consultancy industry, which has struggled in the recession as customers cut back on discretionary projects. The merger is expected to save the companies $80m a year over three years.