Willis launches bid to take full control of French broker Gras Savoye

Dominic Casserley, group chief executive of Willis.

Dominic Casserley, group chief executive of Willis. - Credit: Archant

Global risk advice and insurance broking firm Willis has launched a 550million euro (£393m) offer to take full control of the French broker Gras Savoye.

New York-based Willis, whose UK business includes a major presence in Ipswich, is seeking to acquire the 70% of Gras Savoye it does not already own, with the offer including the repayment of around 40m euros (£28.6m) of third party debt.

Willis said the Gras Savoye board had received the offer “posively”, with the transaction expected to close towards the end of 2015, subject to acceptance by the French company’s shareholders and regulatory approvals.

The deal would give Willis a strong footprint in France where Gras Savoye is the largest broker and has a leading position in the mid-market sector, which is seen as offering further growth potential.

Willis also believes the integration process would be “smooth and relatively quick”, with the firms having an established working relationshiop going back 40 years.

Dominic Casserley, chief executive of Willis, said: “Our clients see us as the multinational risk adviser and broker of choice. In this next phase of our longstanding partnership, Willis and Gras Savoye would deepen further our client service offering and strengthen our reach and expertise.

“We would help clients in both fast-growing and developed markets to capture opportunities.

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“This deal would unite two complementary global networks, the analytical expertise of both organisations, and two values-based operating models in order to bring more to our clients.”

Patrick Lucas, chairman of Gras Savoye, said: “We have worked together for 40 years, and this offer is the logical next step in that relationship. Together we would be stronger and could present a truly impressive worldwide offering to clients, as well as professional development opportunities to our colleagues at Gras Savoye and at Willis.”