Joe Plumeri, chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings Ltd., outlined the corporation’s progress through 2004, reflected on sweeping transformations taking place in the global insurance industry and the company’s platform for growth at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders which was held on April 29, in New York City.
“We celebrated a number of significant accomplishments in 2004 which will have a lasting impact for our shareholders, our clients and Associates around the world,” said Plumeri. “Demonstrating long-term confidence, the Board of Directors increased the dividend to $0.75 per share annually in February 2004 which was subsequently increased to $0.86 per share annually in February 2005. Separately, in 2004 the company repurchased $339 million of stock under the existing authorization. We strengthened our global footprint by increasing our holding in Willis Denmark to 100% and bought a majority stake in Coyle Hamilton which was the largest, independently owned insurance broker in Ireland.
“Insurance is a great and vital industry – but for too long has been inwardly-focused. Accepting and embracing the metamorphosis that has come with the heightened scrutiny of industry accepted conventions, we are leading the efforts of transparency and are further demonstrating our commitment to the tangible, measurable value we deliver to clients,” Plumeri continued.
“This changing environment brings challenges but many more opportunities which we face with excitement and confidence,” Plumeri noted. “We are challenging our own conventions and assumptions in order to reinforce our business around the world and are confident we will emerge with a stronger more resilient model for long-term success.”
At the meeting, shareholders:
— Elected all Directors until the close of the next Annual General Meeting of Shareholders or until their respective successors are elected or appointed;
— Re-appointed Deloitte & Touche as auditors until the close of the next Annual General Meeting of Shareholders and authorized the Audit Committee on behalf the Board of Directors to fix the auditors remuneration;
— Voted to increase the number of shares available for issuance under the company’s 2001 share purchase and option plan;
— Amended the rules of the company’s 2001 share purchase and option plan to include non-employee Director;
— Adopted the Willis Group Senior Management Incentive Plan;
— Amended the Company’s by-laws 133(ii) and 149.