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Willis concludes another strong year

Willis Group finished 2003 with a healthy organic growth of 15 percent for the year as it revealed total revenues had grown 20 percent to $2076mn.

Net income for the final quarter was static at $118mn with 2002 but overall earnings almost doubled for the year from $210mn to $414mn - although accounting for stock options reduced this to $386mn. Margins were up to a remarkable 30 percent for the year, against 28 percent in 2002, and three times what they were before the KKR takeover.

The group also revealed that it raised the quarterly dividend by 15 percent to $0.1875 - $0.75 for the year - and restructured its debt facilities.

Group chairman and chief executive Joe Plumeri was in ebullient form: "Willis is in great shape. This is our sixteenth consecutive quarter of record earnings; we raised the dividend again and refinanced our debt on investment grade terms - all within six years of the 1998 leveraged buy-out. In addition to our strong organic growth efforts, we continue to recruit top industry talent".

KKR continues to take advantage of the strong share price by diluting its holding through a further secondary offering.


Marsh team goes to Denis Clayton
London market broker Denis M Clayton, and its US parent Towers Perrin, have recruited an Anglo-American marine reinsurance team from Marsh.

London brokers transferring to Dennis Clayton include David Redmond, Nick Titcombe, John Bull and Peter Townsend, while US producers include team head Frank Hernandez and Joe Leotta.


Gallagher grows in London
AJ Gallagher, the world's fourth largest broker, is expanding its London operations by recruiting more brokers from Benfield. Last year, Kevin Conlan moved over and he is set to be joined by a number of former colleagues including Norman Wiltshire, Steve Taylor and Larry Tucker.

At the end of last year, the Group purchased wholesale liability London market broker Connor Hale Kerslake Ltd.

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