Following the merger between Willis and Towers Watson, the newly created Willis Towers Watson found itself in 2016 with a set of legal entities in various jurisdictions that were used for treasury transactions by the two legacy companies. It was obviously not an effective structure for the future of Willis Towers Watson, and we felt that a single, new entity was required to absorb and consolidate treasury activities from around the combined company. Our vision was for the new treasury entity to deliver a ‘Centre of Excellence’ and to further create a more unified treasury operation that can provide service to all of the company’s affiliates world-wide. The new entity would also improve the visibility and transparency of the treasury function.
At the same time, Willis Towers Watson’s businesses in Western Europe came into focus: following the merger and the acquisition of Gras Savoye, a French-based insurance broker, the new company had been conducting 20% of its business in Western Europe, with annual revenues in excess of $1bn. As a result, we decided to launch Willis Towers Watson’s inaugural €540m Eurobond in May 2016, raising funding in euros for the first time. Europe had the scale to merit a treasury team to support it and also cover other aspects of the business. The question was where should it be based?
As we considered various options, the UK voted to leave the EU. Given the uncertainty following Brexit, we wanted to keep any possible implications on our intercompany dealings away from our businesses. Locating our treasury centre in an EU member state would achieve just that.
Choosing the Netherlands
Willis Towers Watson chose the Netherlands as the location for the new Global Treasury Centre. Willis Group had been doing business in the country since 1965; Towers Watson since 2005. The combined company now employs nearly 400 associates in seven offices in the Netherlands. Amsterdam was already a familiar business location for our company, with established office locations that could accommodate the new team.