Willis Group

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Willis Group Holdings plc
IndustryInsurance broker
Founded1828 (1828) (London)
SuccessorWillis Towers Watson
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
Key people
Dominic Casserley
ProductsInsurance, Risk management,
Human resource consulting
Revenue$3.8 billion (2014)
$647 million (2014)
$362 million (2014)
Number of employees

Willis Group Holdings plc was a multinational risk advisor, insurance brokerage and reinsurance brokerage company with its headquarters in the Willis Building in London until its merger of equals with financial services company Towers Watson in 2016. It was the world's third-largest insurance broker when measured by revenues.[1] Willis has around 400 offices in 120 countries and approximately 18,000 employees.[2]

Willis was previously listed on the New York Stock Exchange before its early-2016 'merger of equals' with Towers Watson. After the deal closed, the combined company began trading on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol, WLTW (Nasdaq: WLTW).[3]


The Willis Building in London

The company was founded by Henry Willis in London in 1828, and initially operated as Henry Willis & Co.[4] In 1898 it merged with Faber Brothers (founded in 1886) to form Willis Faber,[4] and then in 1928 it merged with Dumas & Wylie (founded in 1843) to create Willis, Faber & Dumas.[4] It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1976 as Willis Faber.[4]

It expanded into the United States in 1990 when it merged with Corroon & Black (founded as R. A. Corroon & Co. in 1905) to form the Willis Corroon Group.[4] In 1998 in a leveraged buyout the company was acquired by Trinity Acquisition on behalf of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts,[4] and in 1999 the name Willis Group was adopted.[4] It was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001.[4]

In October 2008, Willis acquired Hilb, Rogal & Hobbs Co. (HRH), one of the largest insurance and risk management intermediaries in North America and this has boosted their North American presence, as well as acquired Glencairn Limited which has augmented its Lloyd's of London Market strength.[5]

Willis announced plans in 2009 to relocate its registered office from Bermuda to Ireland.[6] Its shareholders approved the move in December 2009, and the company announced on 31 December 2009, that its reorganisation has been completed and the new parent company of the Willis Group – known as Willis Group Holdings Public Limited Company – is incorporated in Ireland.[7][8]


On 30 June 2015, Willis Group announced it would merge with Towers Watson to create Willis Towers Watson. It was stated that the combined company operated in 120 countries, with a workforce of approximately 39,000 employees and revenues of $8.2 billion[9] and a value of $18 billion.[10] The merger was concluded on 5 January 2016 after all regulatory approvals were received.[11]


The Willis Tower in Chicago

Willis moved into the Willis Building, its new London headquarters, in May 2008.[12]

The Willis Building in Ipswich, England, is one of the earliest buildings designed by Norman Foster after establishing Foster Associates. Constructed between 1970 and 1975 it is now seen as a landmark in the development of the 'high tech' architectural style. It is one of the youngest buildings to be given Grade I listed building status in Britain.[13]

The 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago was renamed the Willis Tower in July 2009. Willis secured the naming rights as part of its agreement to lease 140,000 square feet (13,000 m2) of space in the 3,800,000-square-foot (350,000 m2) tower.[14] It was the world's tallest building from 1974 until 1998, when it was surpassed by the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.[15]


Willis has 400 offices in more than 100 countries.[16]


Willis Group was the sponsor of The Willis Resilience Expedition, a scientific program in Antarctica to better understand Global warming and build resilience to weather-related risk.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Top Global Insurance Brokers AM Best". Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Willis Group Holdings Fact Book". Willis Group Holdings. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  3. ^ Tan, Gillian (9 December 2015). "Towers Watson's Odd Choice of Words". BloombergGadfly. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Willis: History
  5. ^ Insurance broker Willis to buy HRH, Business Week, June 2008
  6. ^ Willis Proposes Change in Place of Incorporation to Ireland, Press Release
  7. ^ "Willis Investor Relations", 31 December 2009
  8. ^ "Willis Group holders agree to move co. to Ireland", Associated Press, 11 December 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2009
  9. ^ "Willis Group and Towers Watson Announce Merger to Create Leading Global Advisory, Broking and Solutions Firm", 30 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Willis and Towers Watson to merge in $18B deal". CNBC. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  11. ^ Comtois, James (13 July 2015). "Towers Watson, Willis merger to combine strengths". Pensions & Investments. Crain Communications, Inc. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  12. ^ Crunch? And the Willis building is sold, World Architecture News, 13 May 2008
  13. ^ "Pioneering management guidelines for modern listed buildings". Context. September 1995.
  14. ^ "Willis Tower Becomes Official: Sears Tower Renamed", Huffington Post, 17 July 2009
  15. ^ Fodor's Chicago 2010, p. 125, Stephanie Butler, Kelly Kealy, Alexis Kelly, Random House, Inc., 2009, ISBN 1-4000-0860-3. Retrieved 17 December 2009
  16. ^ Willis: The Willis Way
  17. ^ Five minutes with...teen polar explorer Parker Liautaud Travel Bite, 30 September 2013

External links[edit]