from Anurag Kotoky:

Willis – Just say no to contingents

The return of contingent commissions to the insurance brokerage business has provided one company with an opening to differentiate itself – by not accepting them.

Insurance brokers are middlemen between insurance companies and insurance buyers. They’re supposed to act in the interest of the buyer, but they can receive “contingent” commissions by steering a certain amount of business to the companies.

The practice was banned five years ago after an assault led by Eliot Spitzer, riding high at the time as New York’s attorney general and the “sheriff of Wall Street.”

But now the practice has returned from the dead, and two top players – Aon and Marsh & McLennan – are taking steps to return to it.

That gives another company, Willis, an opening to differentiate itself by advertising that it refuses to sully itself with such a conflict of interest. As other companies made clear that they were moving back to accepting the payments, Willis fired off a press release blasting the practice.

Deals wrap: Cutting assets to pay for slick

BP CEO Tony Hayward testifies about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico at the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 17, 2010.  REUTERS/Larry DowningBP is looking to sell assets to help pay for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A source says BP is in talks with U.S. oil and gas company Apache Corp. The Sunday Times reported that the talks involved $12 billion in assets. View article

Aon, the world’s largest insurance brokerage, said it will acquire human-resource service company Hewitt Associates for about $4.9 billion in cash and stock to beef up its consulting business. The Aon-Hewitt deal is the second major deal in the consultancy space in a year. View article

If you are feeling bullish, then you’re in agreement Warren Buffett, Ken Fisher, Leon Cooperman and John Paulson. The WSJ takes a look at what these four market heavyweights are buying. View WSJ article

DealZone Daily

Friday’s highlights:

Citigroup Inc could pay commercial and investment banking bonuses for 2009 that are similar to 2008 levels, and may cap individual cash payouts at about $60,000, according to people that have been briefed on the plan.

CF Industries Holdings Inc (CF.N) withdraws its year-long hostile bid to buy rival fertilizer maker Terra Industries Inc (TRA.N) on Thursday, bringing a three-way battle for control of the North American fertilizer business closer to a conclusion.

Shiseido Co Ltd, Japan’s largest cosmetics company, agrees to buy U.S.-based Bare Escentuals Inc for $1.7 billion, as it looks to revamp its global brand and expand in North America.