Willis Group Holdings Chairman and CEO Joe Plumeri, at a press conference in Shanghai, spoke of the global broker’s commitment to the Chinese market. “We are focusing our business on domestic companies so that we can make a difference in China for Chinese companies – not just on growing our business in China based on foreign investments,” Plumeri explained.
He noted that Willis has been awarded the contract to secure the construction coverage of a new offshore oil platform belonging to CACT Operators Group, a joint venture between the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Chevron and ENI. The new facilities will be located offshore China, 150 kms (90 miles) southeast of Hong Kong.
In 2004, Willis purchased a 50 percent equity stake in Shanghai Pudong Insurance Brokers Ltd. (See IJ web site Aug. 18, 2004). It has since increased its stake in Willis Pudong Insurance Brokers Ltd. to 51 percent (See IJ web site Nov. 15, 2005) – the first foreign-controlled broker to be given the right to have a majority interest in a Chinese broker. Plumeri said Willis intends to purchase the remaining 49 percent over time.
He also noted: “With its extensive network of 20 locally-staffed offices throughout China, Willis now has the largest local network and workforce of all the global brokers and we are the number one global insurance broker in China.”
As a result of that success, Plumeri announced that “Willis Pudong Insurance Brokers Co. Ltd. will now be known as Willis Insurance Brokers Co., Ltd. The name change sends a very clear message – Willis Insurance Brokers can draw on Willis Group’s vast global resources and skills to help companies meet all their local Chinese requirements and their international business needs.”
He also indicated that a major “factor in our strong growth in China is that our senior management are Chinese, so we can bridge the gap between the nuances of the country and the business of insurance broking.”