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Willis Shareholders Approve Move To Ireland

by Robin Pilgrim, LawAndTax-News.com, London

16 December 2009


Willis Group Holdings Limited, the global insurance broker, has announced the approval by its shareholders of the "redomestication" of its parent company from Bermuda to Ireland at a special meeting.

Willis said the new domicile provided a "more stable financial and legal infrastructure" to meet its needs and improved its ability to maintain a "competitive worldwide effective corporate tax rate." Ireland offered a "long history of international investment and long-established commercial relationships, trade agreements and tax treaties with European Union member states, the United States and other countries around the world where Willis does business."

The proposal to reorganize the company goes before the Supreme Court of Bermuda for approval on December 18 and Willis expects to complete the reorganization around the end of this year.

Upon completion of the reorganization, a new Irish public limited company, Willis Group Holdings plc, will replace Willis Group Holdings Limited as the ultimate public holding company of the Willis Group. Willis also announced that its shareholders approved at the special meeting the creation of distributable reserves of Willis Group Holdings plc, which is expected to be approved by the Irish High Court within three to six weeks after completion of the reorganization. Willis is already one of the largest insurance brokers in Ireland.

This year Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) Survey produced by the City of London ranked Dublin sixth as an insurance center, ahead of Hamilton, Bermuda, for the first time. Gross premium income arising from underwriting non-Irish business by members of the Dublin International Insurance Management Association (DIMA) grew 46% in 2008 to EUR26.2bn. Net premium income grew by 55% to EUR21.7bn, according to DIMA figures.

The Irish Times has recently reported several insurance industry investments attracted to Ireland for tax reasons, most recently Everest Re, one of the world’s top 10 reinsurers, and also including Beazleys, Canopius, Aspen Insurance, and Bowring Marsh. The Irish Times suggested that investment was attracted by a low corporation tax rate, and Ireland’s membership of the European Union, allowing them to sell their products across Europe.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series which studies the 20 main offshore jurisdictions which offer captive insurance regimes is available in the Lowtax Library at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/subs_reports.asp and a description of the report can be seen at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/description_report11.asp

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