© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Franklin Street entrance to the newly named Willis Tower is seen in Chicago, Illinois July 16, 2009. REUTERS/Frank Polich
(Reuters) – Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:) PLC, which has been under pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, appointed four new directors on Thursday as it looks to turn around its business following a botched merger with rival Aon (NYSE:) Plc.
Inga Beale, the former chief executive officer of Lloyd’s of London, is one of the newly-appointed directors, the insurance broker said, adding that industry veterans Fumbi Chima, Michael Hammond and Michelle Swanback are also joining the board.
Willis also announced Chairman Victor Ganzi would not stand for re-election at the annual shareholder meeting in 2022 after his current term expires.
The announcement comes months after a pushback from U.S. regulators forced Willis and Aon to call off their $30 billion merger that would have created the world’s largest insurance broker, topping current leader Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc (NYSE:).
In the weeks following the derailed merger plans, Willis named company insider Carl Hess (NYSE:) as its next CEO and president.
Three of the incoming directors will be a part of a new four-member board committee called the Operational Transformation Committee, which will be focused on the company’s turnaround effort.
Beale, Hammond and Swanback will join the board from Jan. 1 next year, while Chima will assume her role on April 1, the company said.
Willis said Jaymin Patel, a current board member who has held the role since 2013, would step down on Jan. 1.
The planned changes, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, are also supported by Elliott Management Corp, one of the company’s biggest investors, according to the statement.
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Stats had a positive effect on the European stock market. European growth stocks
West European stock indexes closed Wednesday’s trading with a confident growth. Traders evaluated the fresh batch of statistics and bought European growth stocks.
What influenced European stocks to high growth?
GDP volume in France rose 0.2% in the third quarter compared to the previous three months, final data from the national statistics institute Insee showed. The final data coincided with a preliminary estimate. Analysts, on average, had not expected a revision, according to a Trading Economics survey. GDP growth slowed from a 0.5% rebound in the second quarter.
Consumer prices in France, harmonized with European Union standards, rose 7.1% year-over-year in November. Insee also reported. The November rate of increase in consumer prices coincided with that of October, and analysts polled by Trading Economics expected inflation to remain at the same level.
Consumer spending in the country collapsed by 2.8% in October compared with the previous month. Analysts polled by Bloomberg expected a more moderate decline of 1 percent. The consensus forecast of experts polled by Trading Economics envisioned a 0.6% decline. The decrease in consumer spending was the maximum since April 2021.
The number of unemployed in Germany increased by 17 thousand in November, according to the Federal Employment Agency of Germany. The rise in the index was marked at the end of the sixth month in a row. Experts interviewed by Bloomberg agency, on average, predicted an increase of 13.5 thousand. Respondents to Trading Economics expected an increase of 13 thousand.
Additional positives for investors in European markets on Wednesday were messages about easing of coronavirus restrictions in a lot of cities in China. Note that Amazon’s stock price is also rising if you are interested in the U.S. stock market.
Earlier, we reported that U.S. stock indices were up 2.2-4.4%.
U.S. stock indices today rose 2.2-4.4%
The U.S. stock indices today closed the trading on Wednesday with the confident growth due to the statements of the Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, who confirmed that the U.S. Central Bank could slow down the basic rate rise as early as in December.
Judging by the quotations of futures on the level of the prime rate, U.S. stock market indices expect the Federal Reserve to raise it by 50 basis points (bps) in December – to 4.25-4.5%. The U.S. Central Bank has increased the rate by 75 bps at each of the previous four meetings. Against this background, the current stock price of Facebook also rose.
The report by the industry organization ADP, published on Wednesday, showed a slowdown in job growth in the U.S. private sector. Their number increased by 127,000 in November, the lowest rate since January, said the ADP. Analysts polled by The Wall Street Journal on average had forecast job growth of 190,000 after a jump of 239,000 in October.
Data from the U.S. Commerce Department, also released Nov. 30, showed higher-than-reported growth in the U.S. economy in the third quarter. U.S. GDP grew at an annualized rate of 2.9% in the July-September quarter, rather than the previously reported 2.6%. Experts polled by Trading Economics had expected an average revision of 2.7%.
Also, the Federal Reserve released its regional Beige Book survey Wednesday, showing that economic activity in the United States was little changed in the fall.
Federal Reserve banks in five counties reported a weak increase in activity in October and November, while the other seven reported a stable or slightly declining economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average index was up 737.24 points (2.18%) at 34589.77 as of Wednesday’s market close.
Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 122.48 points (3.09%) to 4,080.11 points.
The Nasdaq Composite added 484.22 points (4.41%) to 1,468.
All three U.S. stock market indices closed November, with the Dow Jones gaining 5.3%; the S&P 500 gaining 4.6%, and the Nasdaq Composite gaining 3.3%.
Earlier we reported that Main European stock indices were rising during trading.
Main European stock indices rise in trading
Main European stock indices are rising during trading on Thursday. The Stoxx Europe 600 composite index of the largest companies in the region rose 0.58% to 442.60 points. German DAX is up 0.34%, British FTSE 100 is up 0.15%, French CAC 40 is up 0.01%, Italian FTSE MIB is up 0.47% and Spanish IBEX 35 is up 0.45%.
What affected the best European stock indices?
During a speech at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday, Powell reiterated that the Fed could slow the rise in the prime rate as early as December. “The time to moderate the pace of rate hikes may come as early as the next meeting,” Powell said.
The Fed chair, meanwhile, tried to balance those words with “hawkish” signals. Market Watch notes. He said that the U.S. Central Bank will have to raise the rate higher than could be expected a few months ago. Moreover, Powell made it clear that the issue of rate cuts is irrelevant at the moment. By the way, his words influenced the growth of the current stock price of the NASDAQ-100.
Another Fed official, Board of Governors member Lisa Cook said she believes the regulator needs to keep raising rates as inflation is still too high. “We’ve started to get more favorable inflation data. But I would be cautious about drawing big conclusions on just one month’s worth of data,” Cook said during a speech at the Detroit Economic Club.
Earlier, we reported on how European stock indexes were falling following Asian stock markets.
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