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Marsh granted license to open unit in China

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BEIJING—Marsh Inc. has been granted a license to open a wholly owned insurance broking company in China.

The broker will operate in China as Marsh (Beijing) Insurance Brokers Co. Ltd.

The approval, which Marsh claims is the first wholly owned license awarded by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission to a broker, allows the company to offer brokerage services to buyers of large commercial insurance and reinsurance, as well as international aviation, marine and transport.

Paul Wilkins, Marsh's head of Greater China region based in Beijing, has seen increasing demand for more sophisticated risk and insurance solutions from local Chinese companies.

"We see great interest in areas such as directors and officers liability, environmental issues, pandemic preparedness and product liability. We are actively recruiting and training colleagues in China in support of our clients' growth and our firm's expansion of services," Mr. Wilkins said.

"Because we had a presence in the market for such a long time, we've stuck with our strategy of wanting a wholly owned business here, so we've never entered into a joint venture" with a domestic insurance brokerage, except when needed on a project-by-project basis, Mr. Wilkins said.

"Now...we are free to operate the same way we operate in the United States or anywhere else and do broking or risk management work as a wholly owned company," he said.

Marsh's chief competitors, Aon Corp. and Willis Group Holdings Ltd., operate in China through joint ventures with local brokerages.

Marsh first opened a representative office in China in 1982 and had been operating only as a risk consultancy practice in the region until the license was granted. The company, which already operates out of three offices in the region, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, already plans to expand into Chengdu in western China.

Sally Roberts contributed to this report.