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Willis made offer for Marsh & McLennan: Source


NEW YORK--Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. received an acquisition offer from Willis Group Holdings Ltd. but rejected it, a source familiar with the proposal confirmed.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Business Insurance that the Willis offer was made three months ago and would involve financing from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. KKR purchased Willis in 1998 and took it private before making an initial public offering in 2001. While the buyout firm still has a seat on Willis' board, KKR no longer holds shares in the brokerage.

A Willis spokesman said "we do not comment on marketplace speculation." An MMC spokeswoman declined to comment.

New York-based MMC announced last month that it was exploring options for its Putnam Investments unit, including the possible sale of the asset management subsidiary.

MMC is the world's largest insurance brokerage, based on 2005 brokerage revenues of $10.0 billion, while Willis is the world's third-largest, with revenues of $2.19 billion. Both brokerages have operations in dozens of countries. Slightly less than half of Willis' brokerage revenues are derived from U.S.-based clients, while MMC derives more than half its brokerage revenues from U.S. clients.

While Willis is predominately a retail and reinsurance broker, without consulting operations, MMC has various subsidiaries that provide consulting and investment services in addition to MMC's core business of risk management and insurance services.