His Royal Highness, The Duke of York, Opens London's Latest Architectural Icon: The Willis Building at 51 Lime Street
--Capacity Crowd Witnesses Opening of the Global Insurance Broker's New London Headquarters--
London, UK, July 21, 2008 - The Willis Building, the new landmark London headquarters for Willis Group Holdings (NYSE: WSH), the global insurance broker, was officially opened today amidst great fanfare by His Royal Highness, The Duke of York, KG, UK Special Representative for International Trade & Investments. A capacity crowd of more than 1,500 people, including local dignitaries, Willis Board members and Associates, packed Lime Street between Lloyd's and the entrance to The Willis Building to watch the opening ceremony.
The crowd was entertained by the Band of the Welsh Guards and the Willis Choir, a group of vocally gifted Willis Associates, before listening to the remarks of the Chairman of Lloyd's, Lord Peter Levene, acting in his capacity as Lord Mayor Locum Tenens for the City of London; Joe Plumeri, Chairman and CEO, Willis Group, and Grahame Millwater, President, Willis Group.
In his speech, His Royal Highness, The Duke of York, said:" It is a pleasure to be here today in recognition of how important the insurance industry is to the UK as part of the financial services sector. Broking and underwriting go hand-in-hand and the synergies between Willis and Lloyd's are very clear. I also commend the great teamwork and inspirational leadership of both organisations."
Speaking at the event, Joe Plumeri said, "Moving into 51 Lime Street is about propelling our business into the future. It is important to recognize the past, and it is critical to retain many of the characteristics that have made Willis great - integrity, teamwork, continuity of people and clients. However, we have to build on these, and continually look to what will drive our success into the future. We call the next phase of Willis 'Shaping our Future,' and this building is hugely symbolic of that."
Lord Levene welcomed Willis as Lloyd's new neighbour and spoke about the challenges facing the London Market. He said, "Whatever the future brings, one thing is very clear. As London faces up to the challenges ahead and embraces new opportunities, insurance brokers have huge potential to influence and to drive the change we need. As one of London's - and the world's - largest and most forward-looking intermediaries, the leadership of Willis will continue to be critical to this process. As Lord Mayor Locum Tenens, I am delighted to help celebrate Willis' continued commitment to the City of London."
Following a blessing by local vicars, the Reverend Oliver Ross and Reverend Mark O'Donoghue, His Royal Highness, The Duke of York, unveiled a monument that will now proudly stand outside The Willis Building. On the monument is inscribed this dedication to Willis Associates: "In recognition of all of our Associates who have contributed through the years to the success of Willis. This magnificent building is a fitting monument to your impressive achievements, tireless hard work, expert dedication and unbridled passion... Past, present, future."
Standing 28-storeys high, The Willis Building is the fourth tallest skyscraper in the City. Designed by Foster + Partners, it won the 2007 New City Architecture Award for its unique architectural form and contribution to the London skyline and streetscape. The building also exceeds several environmental standards, including BREEAM (the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) for being among the "greenest" of all new developments.
Willis Group Holdings Limited is a leading global insurance broker, developing and delivering professional insurance, reinsurance, risk management, financial and human resource consulting and actuarial services to corporations, public entities and institutions around the world. Willis has more than 300 offices in some 100 countries, with a global team of approximately 16,000 Associates serving clients in some 190 countries. Additional information on Willis may be found at www.willis.com