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Willis Launches New Distressed Assets Practice

Willis North America, a unit of New York-based global insurance broker ""Willis Group Holdings"":http://www.willis.com/, recently[IMAGE]

announced that it has formed a distressed asset practice in order to advise clients on managing the risks associated with financially distressed, foreclosed, or abandoned commercial properties and to provide a range of insurance solutions.

""The burst real estate bubble has created an avalanche of distressed assets today that only seems to be growing,"" said Don Bailey, chairman and CEO of Willis North America. ""In this challenging environment, there is a great need for sound, objective risk management advice, and specialized expertise. Our objective is to help all industry players reduce and manage their risks and turn distressed assets into productive assets.""

According to Willis, its new distressed assets practice will coordinate specialist capabilities from across the company's practice areas to structure insurance programs that respond to a range of risk management and insurance issues related to distressed assets. The company said major areas of focus will include property, liability, and environmental insurance; forced placed coverage; insurance for REO assets; professional liability insurance; and construction insurance for incomplete projects.

The formation of this practice will bring together resources and expertise from Willis' real estate and hotel, construction, environmental, executive risks, financial services, and mergers and acquisitions practices. In addition, the company's loan protector unit will serve the unique risk management needs of all industry players, including property owners, developers, investors, lenders, receivers, special servicers, and others active in the distressed assets space.

The new distressed assets practice will be headed by Brian Ruane, the national real estate and hotel practice leader for Willis. He was tapped for this leadership position as a result of his extensive experience working with real estate clients contending with or seeking growth opportunities in distressed assets, Willis said. A 25-year veteran of the company, Ruane established Willis' real estate and hotel practice in 2005, and it has since become one of the broker's largest industry practice areas.

About Author: Brittany Dunn


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