Willis Towers unveils revamped board following activist pressure

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FILE PHOTO: The Franklin Street entrance to the newly named Willis Tower is seen in Chicago

(Reuters) – Willis Towers Watson PLC, which has been under pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, appointed four new directors on Thursday as it looks to turn around its business following a botched merger with rival Aon Plc.

Inga Beale, the former chief executive officer of Lloyd’s of London, is one of the newly-appointed directors, the insurance broker said, adding that industry veterans Fumbi Chima, Michael Hammond and Michelle Swanback are also joining the board.

Willis also announced Chairman Victor Ganzi would not stand for re-election at the annual shareholder meeting in 2022 after his current term expires.

The announcement comes months after a pushback from U.S. regulators forced Willis and Aon to call off their $30 billion merger that would have created the world’s largest insurance broker, topping current leader Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc.

In the weeks following the derailed merger plans, Willis named company insider Carl Hess as its next CEO and president.

Three of the incoming directors will be a part of a new four-member board committee called the Operational Transformation Committee, which will be focused on the company’s turnaround effort.

Beale, Hammond and Swanback will join the board from Jan. 1 next year, while Chima will assume her role on April 1, the company said.

Willis said Jaymin Patel, a current board member who has held the role since 2013, would step down on Jan. 1.

The planned changes, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, are also supported by Elliott Management Corp, one of the company’s biggest investors, according to the statement.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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