Towers Watson & Co., with $2.2 trillion in assets under advisement, is expected to dominate the investment consulting arm of the business after it combines with Willis Group Holdings PLC, sources said.
But those sources also said they expect the merger to be the end of Towers Watson's status as a serious bidder for Russell Investments.
The merger, expected to close by the end of the year, will create a new company, Willis Towers Watson PLC.
Michael Rosen, principal and chief investment officer of Santa Monica, Calif.-based consultant Angeles Investment Advisors LLC, speculated that Towers Watson should control that area in the combined business.
“Towers Watson has the stronger investment consulting presence, and I would expect that group to lead the new group effort,” Mr. Rosen said.
Another investment consultant, Jeffrey MacLean, CEO of Seattle-based Verus, noted: “It appears cross-selling is the primary objective” for the merger.
Although Mr. MacLean declined to elaborate, a presentation from the companies show that through the merger, Towers Watson will have access to Willis Group's insurance offerings, while Willis will have access to Tower's Watson's treasury, investment consulting and outsourced chief investment officer services.
Paul Deane-Williams, a spokesman for Towers Watson, declined to comment on any details concerning the future of the new business.
In a conference call on June 30 discussing the deal, Willis Group CEO Dominic J. Casserley explained that “the broad global footprint will enhance Towers Watson's global health and group benefit solution and exchange platform. It will also leverage both companies' ability to serve multinational human capital and benefits clients.”
Mr. Casserley added that, “in North America, Willis will be able to rely upon Towers Watson's large company relationships to increase our penetration to more than $10 billion U.S. large property and casualty corporate market. Towers Watson will be able to accelerate the growth of its one exchange offering to increased access to Willis' existing U.S. middle-market distribution channels.”
Also on the call, Towers Watson's chairman and CEO John Haley said that this merger creates a “global platform with offerings across the advisory, broking, special capabilities and solutions spectrums.”
Most Towers Watson investment consulting clients contacted for this article declined to comment, but one was sanguine.