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Plumeri responds to criticism over Willis Tower

Posted On: Jun. 2, 2009 12:00 AM CST

In a video interview with Crain's Chicago Business yesterday, Willis Group Ltd. Chairman and CEO Joe Plumeri discussed how the brokerage came to obtain the naming rights to the iconic Sears Tower in Chicago and responded to some of the criticism the brokerage has received as a result.

London-based Willis announced in March that it plans to move more than 500 associates into the Sears Tower and that the building—the largest in the Western Hemisphere—would be renamed Willis Tower.

Willis has previously said that it paid no additional fee for the naming rights.

Many Chicagoans are not taking the name change lightly, however. On the Web site, more than 33,400 people have signed a petition to keep the original Sears Tower name, which it says is synonymous with the Windy City. And more than 96,000 people have joined the Facebook group “Chicagoans against Willis Tower.”

In the video, Mr. Plumeri said that as a global financial services firm Willis is trying to participate in and contribute to Chicago, which has evolved into a global city. And while he said he understands the sentimentality toward the building's name and rich history, he hopes that over time Chicagoans will adjust and come to appreciate the Willis Tower.