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07.19.11

Aon Acquires Ward Group

Acquisition strengthens McLagan benchmarking and consulting capabilities in the insurance sector

CHICAGO, July 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Aon Corporation (NYSE: AON) today announced it has acquired Westfield Financial Corporation and its subsidiary, the Ward Financial Group, from Ohio Farmers Insurance Company. Ward is a leading provider of benchmarking and best practices research studies for insurance companies in North America. Ward will be integrated with Aon's McLagan Partners, an Aon Hewitt company and a premier performance/reward consulting and benchmarking firm for the financial services industry.

Ward has executed more than 1,500 benchmarking initiatives for approximately 350 insurance companies throughout North America, including more than half of all major U.S. Property-Casualty insurers. The firm is also known for its Ward's 50, a distinction given to the top performing companies in property-casualty and life-health insurance.

Jeff Rieder, current president of Ward, will continue to lead the group, reporting to Michael Burke, president of McLagan Partners.

"Ward shares our focus on clients and our commitment to excellence. They will be a great fit with McLagan and Aon Hewitt," said Burke. "During the past two decades, Ward has developed a strong brand and established a significant leadership position in the insurance sector throughout North America. We intend to build on this success by leveraging McLagan's platform in Europe, the Middle East and Asia to better serve our clients in the global insurance industry. I welcome Jeff and his colleagues to the McLagan team."

McLagan works with virtually every leading global financial services firm worldwide, including investment, commercial and retail banks, securities firms, investment management organizations and hedge funds. Its approach to performance/reward consulting and benchmarking enables clients to better interpret market trends and apply them to improve business results. McLagan views the insurance industry as a natural extension to its existing client base.

"This acquisition enables us to provide our leading performance/reward and benchmarking solutions to the full spectrum of financial services firms," said Brian Dunn, chairman of McLagan. "Using Aon's vast worldwide network, we expect to quickly become the leading pay and performance provider to the global insurance sector."

"We are very excited to join McLagan and Aon," said Rieder. "They have an internationally recognized reputation for innovation with a singular focus on client service, and I know Ward's clients will benefit from access to a truly global network and all of the services and resources offered by Aon's leading brands."

Ward's employees are expected to transition to McLagan and remain in Cincinnati, OH, Ward's current headquarters.

This acquisition was made pursuant to a definitive agreement executed by a subsidiary of Aon and Ohio Farmers Insurance Company. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

About McLagan

McLagan is the leading Performance / Reward consulting and benchmarking firm for the financial services industry.  McLagan helps clients make better decisions by applying market pay and performance information to their business problems.  The firm believes that accurate market data is a requirement for aligning resources with opportunities. Market data identifies market opportunities, business improvement opportunities and prices for talent and products.  McLagan's goal is to provide a complete and accurate set of data, coupled with insights, to help management interpret market trends and apply them to improve business results.  To learn more, visit www.mclagan.com.

About Ward Group

Ward Group® is the leading provider of benchmarking and best practices research studies for insurance companies. The firm analyzes staff levels, business practices and expenses for all areas of insurance company operations to help companies measure results, optimize performance and be more profitable. Since 1991, Ward Group has worked with over 300 insurance companies throughout North America. Ward Group's in-depth, "apples-to-apples" benchmarking and accumulated data serve as the lifeblood of every project. The firm's professional staff is uniquely qualified to assist clients in achieving their expense and operational goals.  To learn more, visit www.wardinc.com.

About Aon Hewitt

Aon Hewitt is the global leader in human resource consulting and outsourcing solutions.  The company partners with organizations to solve their most complex benefits, talent and related financial challenges, and improve business performance.  Aon Hewitt designs, implements, communicates and administers a wide range of human capital, retirement, investment management, health care, compensation and talent management strategies.  With more than 29,000 professionals in 90 countries, Aon Hewitt makes the world a better place to work for clients and their employees.  For more information on Aon Hewitt, please visit www.aonhewitt.com.

About Aon

Aon Corporation (NYSE:AON) is the leading global provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human capital solutions and outsourcing. Through its more than 59,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon unites to deliver distinctive client value via innovative and effective risk management and workforce productivity solutions. Aon's industry-leading global resources and technical expertise are delivered locally in over 120 countries. Named the world's best broker by Euromoney magazine's 2008, 2009 and 2010 Insurance Survey, Aon also ranked highest on Business Insurance's listing of the world's insurance brokers based on commercial retail, wholesale, reinsurance and personal lines brokerage revenues in 2008 and 2009. A.M. Best deemed Aon the number one insurance broker based on revenues in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and Aon was voted best insurance intermediary 2007-2010, best reinsurance intermediary 2006-2010, best captives manager 2009-2010, and best employee benefits consulting firm 2007-2009 by the readers of Business Insurance. Visit http://www.aon.com for more information on Aon and http://www.aon.com/unitedin2010 to learn about Aon's global partnership and shirt sponsorship with Manchester United.


 





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