Aon Corp. (AON), the world’s largest insurance broker, will move its corporate headquarters to London from Chicago to give the firm better access to emerging economies and the Lloyd’s of London insurance market.
The move won’t trigger any job losses in Chicago, which will remain the firm’s Americas headquarters, the broker said today in a statement. The firm plans to add 1,000 jobs across the U.S. this year, it added.
Aon, which also offers clients human resources consulting services, will use its proximity to Lloyd’s of London to boost growth in emerging markets such as Asia and Latin America as the world’s oldest insurance market has licenses to operate in more than 75 countries. Rival broker Willis Group Holdings Inc. (WSH) has its corporate head office in London and is incorporated in Dublin for tax purposes.
“The move provides greater access to emerging markets and takes better advantage of the strategic proximity to Lloyd’s and the London market as one of the key international hubs of insurance and risk brokerage,” Aon said in the statement.
About 20 employees including Chief Executive Officer Greg Case will move to the broker’s existing London offices in the city’s financial district known as the Square Mile, David Prosperi, an Aon spokesman, said by telephone. The firm will eventually move to a nearby skyscraper known as the Cheesegrater, due to be completed in 2014, he said.
Aon, which employs 59,000 people including 6,000 in the U.K., said the move will also provide better capital allocation and give it financial flexibility. The move is subject to shareholder approval, Aon said.
The move will also allow the broker to “drive significant value to shareholders, under a U.K. territorial tax system,” partly through a change in the geographic distribution of income, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today.
The broker dropped less than 1 percent to $46.28 a share at 4 p.m. in New York, valuing the company at about $15 billion.
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