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Willis taps ex-AIG CEO Sullivan to lead new global unit


NEW YORK—Willis Group Holdings P.L.C. has appointed former American International Group Inc. CEO Martin J. Sullivan to lead a new business unit that oversees Willis’ brokerage and risk management advisory services for multinational clients.

Mr. Sullivan, who is chairman and CEO of the unit, Willis Global Solutions, also has been named deputy chairman of Willis Group Holdings P.L.C.

That new unit, based in New York, will aim to “develop and manage a differentiated service proposition in the large-account sector,” Willis said in a statement.

“This new unit will distinguish the company as a significant player in the global marketplace positioned to serve the world’s largest clients and challenge entrenched brokers who have significant share of multinational business,” according to Willis.

Willis Global Solutions will become a unit of Willis Global, which is headed by Chairman and CEO Grahame Millwater. Mr. Millwater also serves as president of Willis Group Holdings.

Mr. Sullivan, who succeeded Maurice R. Greenberg as AIG’s CEO in 2005, was ousted in 2008 amid mounting pressure from AIG shareholders.

Willis CEO Joseph J. Plumeri welcomed Mr. Sullivan’s appointment.

“Across the length and breadth of the insurance industry, a client would be hard pressed to find a more experience or skilled expert than Martin Sullivan,” Mr. Plumeri said in a statement.

“Martin’s deep, strong and lasting connections to all segments of the insurance industry will be an enormous asset to Willis, working for our current and future clients in the type of role that has earned him well-deserved recognition over many decades in our business,” the Willis CEO added.

Mr. Sullivan began his career with AIU, the non-life U.K. unit of AIG, in 1970. In 1993 he became president of AIU’s U.K. & Ireland division and managing director of AIG Europe (U.K.) Ltd.

He was named senior vp for foreign and general insurance in 1996 and executive vp of that division in 1998. In 1996, Mr. Sullivan also was appointed chief operating officer of AIU in New York and named president of that unit in 1997. He was elected to the board of AIG in May 2002.

Mr. Millwater said during a conference call that Willis had always had a "fantastic" global business, encompassing such specialties as marine and energy and aviation, as well as more specialized lines such as bloodstock insurance.

The establishment of the new unit will enable Willis to bring its capabilities more seamlessly to large, global clients around the world, he explained.

Mr. Millwater said Mr. Sullivan “has a huge knowledge” of the industry and "connections around the world.”

Mr. Sullivan said during the call that he is "delighted to be part of the Willis organization."

Willis Global also will comprise Willis Re, Willis Global Specialties, Willis Global Markets, Willis Global Placement, Willis Facultative Reinsurance, Willis Capital Markets & Advisory, Willis Analytics and Faber & Dumas. Those units will continue to be run by their current management teams, Willis said.