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Willis 2006 revenues increase 7%


NEW YORK—Willis Group Holdings Ltd. reported increased revenues and profits for 2006.

Total revenues were up 7.1% to $2.43 billion for the year, with 8% organic growth in commission and fees, the London-based brokerage said late Wednesday.

Profits rose 59.8% to $449 million and were affected by several items, including the sale of its London headquarters in 2006, spending on its "Shaping Our Future" expense reduction initiatives, and regulatory settlements and related expenses in 2005, the broker said.

Willis took a $17 million charge in the fourth quarter of 2006, which was primarily related to severance costs as part of its overall cost-cutting efforts. The brokerage said its Shaping Our Future initiatives will save it approximately $65 million pretax by 2009, a $5 million increase over its previous estimate.

Willis said it has identified and eliminated an additional 100 positions due to the efficiencies created by the cost-cutting efforts. Willis originally estimated 400 job eliminations.

Willis completed eight acquisitions in 2006, with combined annual revenues of $30 million. In addition, the brokerage said it purchased a further 5% ownership in French broker Gras Savoye & Cie for about $25 million in the fourth quarter of 2006, increasing its ownership to 38%.