Elliott Management and Starboard Value have reportedly taken stakes in Irish-based insurance broker Willis Towers Watson, though the activists are taking a “wait and see” approach before making demands, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper reported that Elliott, Starboard, and Glenview Capital have stakes, though the exact size of each activist’s position is unknown. The move comes after Willis Towers failed to secure a $30 billion merger with insurance broker Aon.
The merger was derailed after the Justice Department raised concerns over anti-trust concerns. Prior to the Justice Department’s decision in mid-June, Willis Towers’ share price was trading at around $255 per share, but the share price had declined 10% since June 15, prior to news of Elliott and Starboard taking positions.
Willis Towers’ share price was up just over 1% at $231.28 per share at 12:49 p.m. EDT on Thursday.
In light of the merger breakdown, Willis Towers said at a September investor day that it plans to repurchase as much as $4 billion worth of stock by the end of the year, along with plans to cut costs by $300 million over the next three years, and increase revenue to more than $10 billion by 2024.
Both Starboard and Elliott have been encouraged by the company’s actions but are waiting to see the execution and outcome of these moves, people familiar with the situation told the newspaper.