Willis Forms Distressed Assets Practice
Appoints Real Estate Leader Brian Ruane to Oversee Unit
NEW YORK, June 17, 2010 — Willis North America, a unit of Willis Group Holdings (NYSE: WSH),
the global insurance broker, announced today that it has formed a Distressed Assets Practice to advise
clients on managing the risks associated with financially distressed, foreclosed or abandoned properties and to provide
a range of insurance solutions.
The company announced the new practice today at a Willis seminar, “Distressed Assets: The Hidden Risks,” at
the Union League Club here.
The new unit will be headed by Brian Ruane, National Real Estate and Hotel Practice Leader for
Willis. It will bring together resources and expertise from Willis’ Real Estate and Hotel, Construction, Environmental,
Executive Risks, Financial Services and Mergers & Acquisitions practices and its Loan Protector unit to serve
the unique risk management needs of all industry players. These include property owners, developers, investors, lenders,
receivers, special servicers and others active in the distressed assets space.
Ruane was tapped to head the new practice because of his extensive experience working with real estate
clients contending with or seeking growth opportunities in distressed assets. Ruane, a 25-year Willis veteran, established
Willis’ Real Estate and Hotel Practice in 2005 and it has since become one of the
broker’s largest industry practice areas.
According to industry reports, an estimated $1.4 trillion in commercial real estate loans will need to be
refinanced between now and 2014. Of those, about 60 percent are “under water,” where the loan
exceeds the value of the asset. The real estate market collapse has seen commercial property values
plummet 42 percent nationally since 2007. There is now $245 billion of distressed commercial assets in
the U.S., up 40 percent in the last year alone. On the residential front, things are
similarly troubled, with a record high 10 percent of all mortgagors having missed at least one
payment. Many of these assets will be moved to financial institutions during the foreclosure process, and
some will become Real Estate Owned (REO), others sold, and others will become the responsibility of
receivers and special servicers.
“The burst real estate bubble has created an avalanche of distressed assets today that only seems to
be growing. In this challenging environment, there is a great need for sound, objective risk management
advice and specialized expertise,” said Don Bailey, Chairman and CEO of Willis North America. “Our new
Distressed Assets practice brings together all of our industry-leading capabilities and knowledge to deliver a coordinated
response to every potential risk area associated with distressed assets. Our objective is to help all
industry players reduce and manage their risks and turn distressed assets into productive assets.”
The Willis Distressed Assets Practice coordinates specialist capabilities from across Willis’ practice areas to structure insurance programs
that respond to a range of risk management and insurance issues related to distressed assets. Major
areas of focus include Property, Liability and Environmental insurance; Forced Placed coverage; insurance for Real Estate
Owned assets; Professional Liability insurance and Construction insurance for incomplete projects.
Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global insurance broker. Through its subsidiaries, Willis develops and delivers
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 400 offices in nearly 120 countries,
with a global team of approximately 17,000 employees serving clients in virtually every part of the
world. Additional information on Willis may be found at www.willis.com.
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