Insurance broker Willis Group and professional services firm Towers Watson announced an $18 billion, all-stock, merger agreement today. 

The companies came together because their services are complementary, executives for both firms said in a statement. Towers Watson sees an opportunity to increase distribution of its technology services, including analytics and private health insurance exchanges, to Willis broking customers, who tend to be in the middle market. At the same time, Willis expects to get a lift from Towers Watson's relationships in the U.S. P&C insurance market.

"We see numerous opportunities to enhance our growth profile by offering integrated solutions that leverage Willis’ global distribution network and superb risk advisory and re/insurance broking capabilities to deliver a more robust set of analytics and product solutions across a broader client base, including accelerating penetration of our Exchange Solutions platform into the fast growing middle-market," says John Haley, chairman and CEO of Towers Watson, who will serve as CEO of the combined company, Willis Towers Watson.

“We look forward to bringing Towers Watson’s innovative solutions to our clients alongside our broking and advisory services. The opportunity to deliver significant savings to our growing middle market client base with Towers Watson’s market-leading private exchange platform is particularly attractive," adds Willis CEO Dominic Casserley, who will be chairman of the combined company, which will be based in Ireland.

Towers Watson also announced new software today meant to help insurance companies manage financial models. Towers Watson Unify helps carriers integrate disparate software products while automating the workflows that run them. On the governance side, the platform supports security, version control and automated creation of comprehensive audit trails.

“Unify allows insurers to fundamentally change their end-to-end financial modeling and reporting processes to run with greater efficiency and consistency, and proper governance,” said Joel Fox, Towers Watson’s global Life Financial Modeling and Reporting leader

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