Towers Watson Acquires Benefits Exchange Developer

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Professional services company Towers Watson has acquired Liazon Corp., developer of private employee benefits exchanges, for $215 million. The company said it would continue to enhance Liazon’s private exchange application, Bright Choices, and service Liazon’s broker, consultant and carrier partners, some of which sell the Liazon product under proprietary brands.

Liazon’s online benefit marketplaces now are distributed through more than 400 insurance brokers under the Bright Choices brand or as a third-party proprietary exchange, Towers Watson said. Those relationships will continue on their current terms.

Liazon is built on a cloud-based platform that offers a suite of decision-support and education tools, Towers Watson said. Towers Watson will continue to offer its OneExchange solution, which the company acquired in June 2012, to service larger employers. Together, the OneExchange and Liazon applications will help companies of all sizes deliver self- and fully insured benefits to both employees and retirees, Towers Watson said.

“Liazon has built a growing business by offering customized private exchange approaches through an extensive network of partners,” said John Haley, CEO of Towers Watson. “As more employers evaluate private exchanges, bringing Liazon into the Towers Watson family will help us — and Liazon’s distribution partners — offer employers scalable, cost-effective and high-performing benefit plans to their employees.”

Ashok Subramanian, Liazon co-founder and CEO, will join the Towers Watson’s exchange solutions segment in a leadership role; Bryce Williams will continue as leader of the overall segment. The acquisition could be dilutive to adjusted EPS by $0.10 to $0.15 in fiscal year 2014, Towers Watson said, with no effect on the forecasted EBITDA margins. Towers Watson purchased Extend Health, and its private exchange application OneExchange, in June 2012.

“This is a transformational time for benefits in the United States. The combination of Towers Watson’s benefit expertise and OneExchange solution with Liazon’s flexible platform and extensive broker network will create the preeminent private benefit exchange solution for employers of all sizes,” said Subramanian. “By joining Towers Watson, we’ll be better positioned to achieve our top priority — to provide our clients and partners with an even greater array of best-in-class tools, resources and service across all market segments.”

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