Millennium Post

UK insurance co Willis starts India invasion, takes 49% of Almondz

England-based Willis Group Holdings, the third largest insurance brokerage in the world, has re-entered the Indian market by picking up 49 per cent stake in the New Delhi-based Almondz Insurance Brokers.

The British company has picked up 49 per cent stake from Avonmore Capital & Management Services, thereby becoming the first foreign company to do so after the Insurance Ordinance was issued in December which allows up to 49 per cent FDI in the sector.

This is the second entry for the British company in the country as exited after the regulator Irda cancelled its licence in 2010 after its then local partner Bhaichand Amulok had failed to meet some legal requirements, even before the joint venture was formed.

It had a 26 per cent stake in Bhaichand Amulok until 2010 and the joint venture was known as Willis India Insurance Brokers.

“We are delighted to partner with Almondz. We are excited about the prospect of continued growth and development in the insurance sector here,” Willis Asia regional chief executive said in a statement.

“This joint venture will allow us to fully participate in this dynamic market, while enabling us to provide our global clients with the levels of service and expertise that they expect from Willis’ operations around the world,” he added.

Almondz Managing Director Rohit Jain said that “We will have to wait for Irda approval before we name the joint venture.”

However, he did not share the financial details of the deal.

Though other global insurers have expressed their desire to raise their stakes from the current 26 per cent to 49 per cent in their existing joint ventures here, they are waiting for the Insurance Bill to be passed by the Rajya Sabha to formalise any such deals.

Following its exits from the JV with Bhaichand Amulok, Willis had moved its business to Almondz and was managing its India business through them.

Willis is the fifth international broker after global broking majors like Marsh, Aon, JLT and Howden to set up operations in the country. However none of the other brokers except Willis have 49 percent stake in joint ventures.

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