In an effort to consolidate its footprint in Canada, Willis
North America, a unit of
Willis Group Holdings plc
), inked a deal to buy Montreal-based Avalon Actuarial Inc.
Alongside, the acquisition marks Willis' foray into the Canadian
employee benefits market. Though the terms of the purchase were
not disclosed, it is expected to close in the final quarter of
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Avalon Actuarial, a leading Canadian employee benefits brokerage
and actuarial consulting services firm, has been serving
corporations and public entities with group insurance, retirement
and pension plans, and other risk management services since 1990.
Per the agreement, Avalon Actuarial's 45 employees and management
team will merge with Willis North America's Canadian operations.
Willis noted that Canada offers solid demand for employee benefit
products and enough growth opportunities. With a strong team of
employees and an array of products, Willis is well positioned to
capitalize on the opportunities offered.
Willis' third quarter reported earnings fell short of Zacks
Consensus Estimate by 27% and the year-ago quarter by 46%. Lower
revenue coupled with higher expenses weighed on the performance.
We believe the acquisition will help Willis rebound and post
solid numbers going forward.
The Zacks Consensus Estimates for the fourth quarter and 2012 are
currently pegged at 46 cents per share and $2.59 per share
Willis has undertaken strategic acquisitions that aid its
operational results. However, the last acquisition dates back to
May 2012, when Willis Risk Services, the Ireland-based subsidiary
of Willis, acquired Attain Consulting and its sister company,
Trustee Principles for $3 million. This acquisition is expected
to enhance Willis Risk's employee benefits business.
Willis currently carries a Zacks #3 Rank, translating into a
short-term hold rating. With the optimism over its latest
acquisition, we expect analysts to raise their estimates,
providing an upward directional pressure on its Zacks Rank.
Arthur J Gallagher & Co.
Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.
), which closely compete with Willis, share the same Zacks