Increased profits for broker Willis

GLOBAL insurance broker Willis, which has a major presence in Ipswich, has reported increased turnover and profit for 2009, in what the company's boss termed “a momentous year”.

GLOBAL insurance broker Willis, which has a major presence in Ipswich, has reported increased turnover and profit for 2009, in what the company's boss termed “a momentous year”.

Total reported revenues for 2009 were US$3.3billion (about �2.1bn) compared with US$2.8 billion for 2008, an increase of 15%.

The increase was primarily due a full-year contribution from the business of US rival Hilb Rogal & Hobbs, which Willis acquired in a US$2.1 bn deal in June 2008. This more than off-set a negative impact from foreign currency conversion which reduced reported revenues by 4%.

Organic growth in commissions and fees was 2% up compared with 2008, reflecting net new business won of 5%t, offset by a negative 3% impact from declining premium rates and other market factors.


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Net income from continuing operations for 2009 as a whole came in at US$436m (about �274m), or US$2.58 per share, up from US$302m, or US$2.04 per share, the previous year.

Excluding exceptional items relating to the acquisition of HRH and a cost review in 2008, adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations rose from US$2.55 to US$2.67, an increase of 5%.

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The reported operating margin was 21.3% for 2009 compared with 17.8% in 2008.

During the final quarter of 2009, Willis also completed a reorganisation of capital of French partner company Gras Savoye, giving it a 31.8% stake in the new holding company and 33.3% of the voting rights.

Joe Pumeri, chairman and chief executive of Willis Group Holdings, said: “2009 was a momentous year.

“We began in the midst of integrating our transformational HRH acquisition, facing a difficult global economy and soft insurance market.

“We responded with 2% organic growth in commissions and fees, disciplined expense management, successful merger integration, completion of the Gras Savoye transaction and a much stronger balance sheet.”

He added: “We are proud of the results we delivered for 2009 and especially proud of our associates around the globe and thank them for their hard work in delivering these results.

“We will continue to run the company with discipline and foresight, managing our expense base and strengthening the balance sheet, while investing in areas that will drive current and future growth.”

Willis employs around 1,200 at its iconic black glass clad building in Ipswich, designed by Norman (now Lord) Foster and completed in 1975.

The company is listed on the New York stock exchange and employs a total of about 20,000 people worldwide, with more than 400 offices in nearly 120 countries.

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