Shareholders of Aon and Willis Towers Watson have approved all of the proposals necessary to complete the two firms’ previously announced combination.

The proposals were voted on at extraordinary general meetings yesterday and at a special meeting of WTW shareholders ordered by the High Court of Ireland.

John Haley, CEO of Willis Towers Watson, said the approval marked “an important milestone” towards completing the merger transaction.

“We are pleased with the outcome of today’s meetings and we thank all of our shareholders for their support of this combination that will bring together our complementary strengths and expand our capacity to address unmet client need,” he said.

Greg Case, Aon CEO, said the firms’ combination had “only become more important” through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The events of 2020 are illustrative of the exact type of transformative long-tail risk our new organisation will be best positioned to address, creating significant value for clients, colleagues, and shareholders,” he said.

The merger is expected to close in the first half of next year. The all-stock transaction gives an implied combined equity value of around $80bn (€66.7bn).

According to IPE’s Top 500, the combined entity would have global assets under management of €295.4bn, more than Mercer’s €274.3bn as at the end of 2019.

The merger is subject to regulatory and other closing conditions. Its completion would come after Aon at one point last year disclosed it had been in discussions about a merger and had pulled out.