Insurance giant Willis Towers Watson today named company insider Carl Hess as its next CEO and president, three weeks after the collapse of its planned $30bn (£22.9bn) mega-merger with rival Aon.
Hess, who currently heads up the firm’s investment, risk and reinsurance segment, will step into current CEO John Haley’s shoes immediately upon his retirement on January 1 next year.
“Following a thorough, multi-year succession planning process, including input from a third-party consultant to assess the experience and attributes of potential internal and external candidates, the Board is confident Carl is the right person to guide the company forward,” said Victor Ganzi, chairman of the Willis board.
It comes a few weeks after Willis and rival Aon agreed to terminate their merger agreement, blaming U.S. regulators’ objections for unacceptable delays and uncertainty.
Aon cited an “impasse” with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as the reason behind the decision to scrap the business combination agreement and end litigation with the DOJ, 16 months after the deal was first announced on 9 March 2020.
In its complaint, the DOJ said the merger would “remake the Big Three into a Big Two” in the insurance world, and “eliminate substantial head-to-head competition and likely lead to higher prices and less innovation, harming American businesses and their customers, employees and retirees”.
If the merger had gone ahead, London-headquartered Aon would have overtaken the third of the big three, Marsh & McLennan, as the world’s largest insurance broker.
Instead, London-based Aon was left with a $1bn termination fee it had to pay Willis, as well as up to $400m in extra costs.