Decision time soon for Unison

The remaining companies comprising the rump Unison network, most of which are located in Europe, will announce a decision about their future early this month according to Joël Royers, managing director of the Brussels-based Unison Consultants Europe.

The network suffered severe dislocation following the pull out of Johnson & Higgins' (J&H) employee benefits arm in March this year.

Of the remaining companies, which include firms in the UK, Denmark, Belgium and Germany, only the French member, Gras Savoye, has since left the network, having concluded a deal with Willis Carroon in July.

Royers said: As yet within the Unison network, Gras Savoye is the only company to make a change. The other partners are still looking at the different possibilities."

J&H provided the core of the Unison network but in European markets where it did not have a presence or had no benefits capabilities, coverage was provided by the other Unison members. The J&H benefit operations were merged with those of William M Mercer, following the merger of J&H with Mercer's parent company Marsh McLennan.

Willis Carroon announced the purchase of a 31.72% shareholding in Gras Savoye this July for which it paid FFr453m ($69m).

The purchase also involves the integration of Willis Carroon's operations in France with those of Gras Savoye.

Willis Carroon has the option to in-crease its stake to 50% in 12 years time, if it has not done so already.

Gras Savoye carries out extensive employee benefits work in France, al-though Willis Carroon sold its own employee benefits operation to Buck Consultants recently.

John Lappin"

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