Tuesday, January 24, 2012

London Olympics and English AON

AON founder and former chairman, Patrick Ryan, worked closely with Mayor Daley and headed the city's unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Olympics. Ryan has been a staunch supporter of Chicago in many ways over his long business career. His ties to Chicago are deep and he owns a portion of the Chicago Bears.

Nevertheless, the mega-insurance company that he founded, Aon Corporation, announced on January 13, 2012 that it will move its corporate headquarters to London from Chicago. According to Aon, "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." According to at least one analyst, one of benefits might be a decline in Aon's tax rates.

Aon has a large financial footprint in the Chicago area that got larger with the $4.9 billion acquisition of human resources firm Hewitt Associates in 2010. According to the Journal, "Aon will shift its corporate domicile to the U.K. from Delaware. To complete the move, the company will issue investors one class A share of the new English company for each common Aon share they own." Thus Aon will not just move from Chicago, it will become an English company. Aon employes 59,000 employees worldwide according to its web site and according to the Journal, 6000 in Chicago. Assurances were made that Aon would continue to use Chicago as it's US headquarters and there would be job growth here as well.

Aon also has a growing financial footprint in sports, but almost entirely in the UK. Aon sponsors Manchester United and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes a British Formula One team--and it has created Team Aon--a commercial partnership between Aon and Arena International Motorsport. The Aon Manchester United deal established in 2010 reportedly cost $80 Million and literally puts "AON" on the team's Jerseys for four years.

How did the Man U sponsorship occur? According to the Tribune, after Man U's old jersey sponsor AIG got a government bailout making its future sponsorship impossible, the team sent a number of possible sponsors a sales pitch they could not ignore. "A pair of framed prototype jerseys arrived last spring [2009] at Aon's Chicago headquarters for Chief Executive Greg Case and marketing chief Phil Clement, who jumped on a plane to England." Apparently they liked the Jerseys and someone at Aon liked the country as well.
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways.

 Update: Sporting Chance Press's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey now available--March 2014!  Order your copies here  for immediate shipment.