Apple – Aon turns to Latham antitrust team for $30 bln DOJ merger battle
- Latham & Watkins is among the firms that advised Aon in its insurance mega-deal with Willis Towers Watson
- The government says the deal would reduce competition and court higher prices
(Reuters) – Insurance broker Aon plc is tapping a team of antitrust partners at Latham & Watkins to defend its planned $30 billion acquisition of Willis Towers Watson against a Justice Department lawsuit.
Six Latham partners – E. Marcellus Williamson, Daniel Wall, Ian Conner, Lawrence Buterman, Michael Egge and Marguerite Sullivan – filed notices of appearance in the case on Friday in Washington, D.C., federal court.
Latham was one of three law firms that advised Aon in its deal with Willis, which would combine the second and third largest of the “Big Three” global insurance brokers. In the lawsuit it filed on Wednesday, the Justice Department alleged the acquisition, announced in March 2020, would reduce competition and could lead to higher prices.
No counsel had appeared for Willis in the D.C. litigation as of Friday afternoon. Willis was represented by attorneys from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and Matheson in the 2020 deal.
Representatives for Aon declined to comment; Willis Towers Watson did not respond to requests for comment.
The Latham team squaring off against the DOJ has decades of combined antitrust experience.
Wall, who began his legal career in the Justice Department’s antitrust division in the 1980s, is among the attorneys defending Apple against accusations that it forced consumers to overpay for iPhone software applications.
Buterman led the federal government’s case against Apple over e-book price-fixing, resulting in a conditional $450 million settlement in 2014. Egge, a former co-chair of Latham’s global antitrust & competition practice, has worked as global competition counsel for The Coca-Cola Company.
Of the six, Conner is the newest addition to Latham’s partnership. He oversaw the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition for four years during the Trump administration. Conner’s division launched the agency’s lawsuit against Facebook accusing the social media platform of using a “buy or bury” strategy to snap up rivals and keep smaller competitors at bay.
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Reporting by David Thomas