Willis Ratings ‘Not Affected’ by Gras Savoye Proposed Acquisition: S&P

April 24, 2015

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said that its ratings on Willis Group Holdings plc
(BBB-/Positive/–) “are not affected by the company’s proposed acquisition of the remaining 70 percent that it does not already own of French-based insurance broker Gras Savoye for approximately €550 million [$587.5 million].

Willis expects the transaction to close sometime between year-end 2015 and June 2016.

“We believe the proposed acquisition will boost Willis’ market presence in France, where Gras Savoye has a leading position, while providing broader access to the rest of Europe, as well as in the Middle East and Africa,” S&P said.

“We expect Willis will be able to maintain credit metrics in line with its ratings following the proposed acquisition with no material deterioration in financial leverage or earnings metrics. We continue to expect the company to continue to moderate its debt leverage through consistent earnings growth (including incremental earnings generation from Gras Savoye following the proposed acquisition), healthy operating cash flow generation, and moderate financial policies.”

S&P also noted its standard caution that under its rating policies, that “only a Rating Committee can determine a Credit Rating Action (including a Credit Rating change, affirmation or withdrawal, Rating Outlook change, or CreditWatch action). This commentary and its subject matter have not been the subject of Rating Committee action and should not be interpreted as a change to, or affirmation of, a Credit Rating or Rating Outlook.

Source: Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services

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