The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Twitter to give board seats to activist investor Elliott Management and equity firm Silver Lake

Activist investor gets Twitter board seat

Twitter will appoint three new directors to its board and create a committee to review its leadership and governance, as part of an agreement with activist investor Elliott Management and private equity firm Silver Lake.

Silver Lake will also make a $1 billion investment in the social media company, which Twitter plans to use to fund part of a $2 billion share buyback, it said.

Elliott’s head of U.S. activism, Jesse Cohn, will join Twitter’s board immediately alongside Egon Durban, co-chief executive of Silver Lake, the firms said in a joint statement. A third independent director will be appointed at a later date.

The board will also form a committee, including Cohn and Durban, that will evaluate a succession plan with Twitter’s current CEO, Jack Dorsey, and make recommendations on the company’s corporate governance, including the potential elimination of its staggered board. The committee plans to share the results of its review by year-end.

The settlement comes a little over a week after Bloomberg News first reported that Elliott took a sizable stake in Twitter to push for changes at the company, including potentially replacing Dorsey. The New York-based firm nominated four directors to Twitter’s board, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

Twitter also announced plans to grow its monetized daily active users in 2020 and beyond by 20 percent or more, accelerate revenue growth on a year-over-year basis and gain share in the digital advertising market. It plans to give more details at its analyst day in the fall.

— Bloomberg News

Aon deal to create world's biggest broker

Aon said on Monday that it would buy Willis Towers Watson for nearly $30 billion in an all-stock deal which will make it the world’s biggest insurance broker and give it more pricing power but also attract regulatory scrutiny.

The acquisition, the insurance sector’s largest ever, unifies the second- and third-largest brokers globally into a company worth almost $80 billion, overtaking market leader Marsh & McLennan. It comes at a time when insurers are facing rising claims and new threats from the global outbreak of the coronavirus and climate change.

Aon had scrapped plans last year to pursue a merger with Willis, a day after media reports forced it to reveal it was in the early stages of considering an all-stock offer for the Ireland-based company. The merger agreement came right after a 12-month restriction under Irish rules for revisiting the deal expired.

The timing also coincides with a violent market correction.

When asked about the timing of the deal, Aon chief executive Greg Case told Reuters: “This is the time we move,” noting that he spoke to 250 senior colleagues on Monday who were “energized” by the deal.

“In a world of volatility, clients have needs around protecting assets,” Case said.

Willis shareholders will receive 1.08 Aon shares for each of their shares. The offer represents a premium of 16 percent to Willis’s closing price on Friday.

— Reuters

The world's wealthiest family moved $48 billion of Walmart stock to a different holding company in an action that may signal future share sales and bolster their philanthropy. Walton Enterprises, the main investment entity of the retailer's founding clan, transferred about 15 percent of Walmart's outstanding shares to the Walton Family Holdings Trust, according to regulatory filings last week. The shift of 415 million shares represented about 29 percent of the shares held by Walton Enterprises. This entity now owns about 1 billion shares.

U.S. natural gas terminal developer Tellurian has cut roughly 40 percent of its workforce in a massive restructuring effort aimed at slashing costs and rescuing a struggling $29 billion export project. The Houston-based company founded by shale gas pioneer Charif Souki laid off as many as 70 workers, according to people familiar with the situation. The company could also put off a final decision on whether to build the Driftwood liquefied natural gas export terminal in Louisiana by 12 to 18 months, said one of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information isn't yet public.

— From news services