Becky Yerak, Chicago Tribune –
Aon Corp. said Friday it will move its corporate headquarters to London from Chicago.
Chicago will continue as headquarters of the Americas for Aon. Aon, which is publicly traded, insists that the move won’t cause any job losses in Chicago.
The insurance brokerage and consulting company said “the move provides greater access to emerging markets and takes better advantage of the strategic proximity to Lloyd’s and the London market as one of the key international hubs of insurance and risk brokerage.”
“While this decision is an important step in our global growth strategy, we expect there will be minimal impact on colleagues and I want to emphasize that this move will not cause any loss of jobs,” Aon CEO Greg Case said in a memo to employees filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Friday. “Chicago will continue to be the headquarters of the Americas and will continue to be a central component of our global growth strategy.”
The company has about 6,000 workers in the Chicago area. As part of the restructuring, the company plans to add 1,000 U.S., jobs, primarily in human resources, and move 750 jobs into the Aon Center downtown, according to an SEC filing. It recently signed a letter-of-intent for a 15-year lease.
Only about 20 Chicago employees will be moving to London as a result of the company relocation.
“The 750 will come from new jobs created by anticipated growth in the United States and from relocation of individuals in other parts of the country based on their roles and functions,” Aon spokesman David Prosperi said.
“We made this decision based the fact that our business is evolving globally,” he said. Some Illinois companies have threatened to move their headquarters from Illinois over state income tax issues, but “we are not doing this for any public policy reasons in Illinois.”
In its announcement, Aon said it plans to add more than 1,000 jobs across its U.S. operations in 2012 based on continued growth opportunities..
“Chicago is the foundation of one of our most important markets, and as the headquarters of the Americas will continue to be central to the success of the firm,” Aon Chief Executive Greg Case said in a statement.
The company will change its incorporation from Delaware to England. Shareholders will receive one share of the newly formed English public limited company for each share of common stock if they approve the change.
Each stockholder would receive one Class A share of a newly formed English company in exchange for each share of common stock of Aon. Aon UK expects to be listed on the NYSE. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.