Articles - Aon Acquires Ward Financial Group

Acquisition strengthens McLagan benchmarking and consulting capabilities in the insurance sector

 Aon Corporation (NYSE: AON) today announced it has acquired Westfield Financial Corporation and its subsidiary, the Ward Financial Group, from Ohio Farmers Insurance Company. Ward is a leading provider of benchmarking and best practices research studies for insurance companies in North America. Ward will be integrated with Aon's McLagan Partners, an Aon Hewitt company and a premier performance/reward consulting and benchmarking firm for the financial services industry.

 Ward has executed more than 1,500 benchmarking initiatives for approximately 350 insurance companies throughout North America, including more than half of all major U.S. Property-Casualty insurers. The firm is also known for its Ward's 50, a distinction given to the top performing companies in property-casualty and life-health insurance.

 Jeff Rieder, current president of Ward, will continue to lead the group, reporting to Michael Burke, president of McLagan Partners.

 "Ward shares our focus on clients and our commitment to excellence. They will be a great fit with McLagan and Aon Hewitt," said Burke. "During the past two decades, Ward has developed a strong brand and established a significant leadership position in the insurance sector throughout North America. We intend to build on this success by leveraging McLagan's platform in Europe, the Middle East and Asia to better serve our clients in the global insurance industry. I welcome Jeff and his colleagues to the McLagan team."

 McLagan works with virtually every leading global financial services firm worldwide, including investment, commercial and retail banks, securities firms, investment management organizations and hedge funds. Its approach to performance/reward consulting and benchmarking enables clients to better interpret market trends and apply them to improve business results. McLagan views the insurance industry as a natural extension to its existing client base.

 "This acquisition enables us to provide our leading performance/reward and benchmarking solutions to the full spectrum of financial services firms," said Brian Dunn, chairman of McLagan. "Using Aon's vast worldwide network, we expect to quickly become the leading pay and performance provider to the global insurance sector."

 "We are very excited to join McLagan and Aon," said Rieder. "They have an internationally recognized reputation for innovation with a singular focus on client service, and I know Ward's clients will benefit from access to a truly global network and all of the services and resources offered by Aon's leading brands."

 Ward's employees are expected to transition to McLagan and remain in Cincinnati, OH, Ward's current headquarters.

 This acquisition was made pursuant to a definitive agreement executed by a subsidiary of Aon and Ohio Farmers Insurance Company. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.


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