Willis Climbs as Broker Named to Replace Fossil in S&P 500

  • After Towers Watson merger, Willis to trade under WLTW ticker
  • Insurance broker shares climb 2.4 percent after announcement

Willis Group Holdings Plc, the insurance broker that’s planning a merger with consulting firm Towers Watson & Co., will join the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and replace Fossil Group Inc.

The change will occur after the close of trading on Jan. 4, according a statement issued Monday by S&P. Willis climbed 2.4 percent in extended trading to $48.16 at 5:31 p.m. in New York. After the transaction is completed, Willis Towers Watson Plc will trade under the ticker symbol WLTW.

The insurance broker agreed in June to combine with Towers Watson in a transaction valued at more than $8 billion, to help it compete with much larger rivals Aon Plc and Marsh & McLennan Cos. The merger is expected to increase shareholder value by about $4.7 billion on reduced expenses, tax savings and opportunities for increased revenue, according to a July regulatory filing. Shareholders approved the deal this month.

“We are confident that combining Towers Watson and Willis will accelerate both companies’ long-term strategies and create substantial incremental value,” Towers Watson Chief Executive Officer John Haley said in a December statement.

The revision in the index may prompt money managers to shift holdings. More than $7 trillion is benchmarked to the gauge, according to the S&P website. Fossil, a maker of watches and other fashion items, will replace Towers Watson in the S&P MidCap 400.

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