Willis Group Holdings plc reported its results for the three months ended March 31, 2015, which show that total reported commissions and fees for the period were $1.081 billion, down 0.9 percent from $1.090 billion in the first quarter of 2014. Willis said the figures were “impacted by $69 million from unfavorable foreign currency movements.

“Total commissions and fees were also impacted by a $25 million period-over-period net increase from acquisitions and disposals completed in the past twelve months.”

Other Q1 earnings highlights were listed as follows:
— Underlying commissions and fees grew 5.8 percent; underlying expenses grew 5.6 percent; positive spread of 20 basis points achieved
— Underlying net income of $230 million, or $1.26 per diluted share up 4.1 percent, from prior year period (rebased for current period exchange rates)
— Organic commissions and fees grew 3.4 percent; organic expenses grew 1.7 percent; positive spread of 170 basis points achieved
— Reported commissions and fees declined 0.9 percent, reported expenses grew 3.0 percent
— Reported net income of $210 million, or $1.15 per diluted share, negatively impacted by foreign currency movements ($0.15 per share) and restructuring charges ($0.12 per share)
— Continued execution of M&A strategy – expected closing of Miller by mid-year and proposal to accelerate Gras Savoye closing

Group CEO Dominic Casserley commented: “The first quarter was a solid start to the year that demonstrates continued progress against our strategic goals. Most importantly, in market conditions that are best described as uneven, we achieved good underlying commissions and fees growth driven by organic growth across all of our segments and solid contributions from our 2014 acquisitions.

“In addition, we have maintained our focus on our cost management initiatives as well as achieving savings from our Operational Improvement Program. As a result, we managed our spread between organic commissions and fees growth and organic expense growth to positive 170 basis points. Overall, we’ve started the year with very good momentum towards our 2015 goal to achieve a positive 130 basis point spread organically.”

He also noted that while Willis “expects market conditions in certain parts of our business to remain challenging throughout 2015, we believe the combination of Willis’s market and geographic diversity, our client propositions, and the continued execution of our cost initiatives, should allow us to achieve our organic growth goals for the year.

“Additionally, momentum from our focused acquisition strategy will be more evident in future quarters, with the expected closing of the Miller transaction in mid-2015 and the recent announcement of our firm offer to acquire the share of Gras Savoye that Willis doesn’t currently own at the end of the year, both subject to regulatory approval. Overall, we are well positioned to build shareholder value as the year goes on.”

Source: Willis group Holdings