Willis returns to public markets

Willis Group Holdings Limited has announced its intention to IPO its common stock. It will file a registration statement under the US Securities Act of 1933 in respect of the proposed offering.

Willis plans to return to the equity market by listing a minority of its stock on the New York Stock Exchange. The company has been informed that its majority shareholder, KKR 1996 fund Limited Partnership, an entity formed by leveraged buyout specialists Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has no present intention to sell shares in the proposed offering.

Willis’ history dates to the early nineteenth century with the founding of three London firms, Henry Willis & Co, Faber Brothers, and Dumas & Wylie. Henry Willis & Co and Faber Brothers merged in 1897 to form Willis, Faber & Co and when that firm was joined by Dumas & Wylie in 1928, the Willis, Faber & Dumas name came into being.

In mid 1998 the company, then Willis Corroon Group, formed by a merger with Corroon & Black Corp, accepted an offer from KKR. With the assistance of a consortium of six

major insurance carriers, KKR led the management buyout of Willis, one of the largest public-to-private transactions completed in the UK. Consequently, the group, which had been publicly quoted since 1976, reverted to being a private company.

In 1999, the group’s operations were amalgamated and became known as Willis Group Limited.

Trinity Acquisition was the newco backed by KKR, which acquired the entire ordinary share capital of Willis Corroon Group for a total value of GBP850.2 million. There was a loan note alternative guaranteed by Chase Manhattan. Guardian Royal Exchange, Royal & Sun Alliance, Chubb Corporation, Hartford Financial and Travelers Property invested inTA alongside seven senior Willis executives.