Aon’s Lester to join Willis’ M&A team

Willis Group, the insurance broker, has hired three London-based risk insurance specialists from Aon Mergers & Acquisitions Group to build up its European M&A and private equity franchise.

Willis Group, the international insurance broker, has recruited three executives from Aon Mergers & Acquisitions Group (AMAG), one of its main competitors in the European market for M&A and private equity related risk insurance services.

Alistair Lester, a former managing director of UK operations at Aon who is highly regarded in European private equity, is to join Willis to work closely with Nathan Sewell, the firm’s international M&A practice leader. Sewell himself joined the firm from Aon in 2001.


Also coming on board are Simon Dodsworth, formerly a UK project director, and Sebastiano Doria, who had worked with Aon’s Italian unit. According to a press release issued by Willis, both Lester and Doria will be taking up senior positions at its European M&A practice.


The hires take the number of Willis professionals focusing on European M&A and private equity to 17. According to Sewell, the practice is going to focus on providing risk insurance due diligence services, specialist M&A related insurance solutions as well as advise on private equity liability management to private equity clients and their portfolio companies. It is also offering environmental insurance expertise.


Willis and Aon are two of the three largest specialists advising private equity houses on insurance related issues. The third is rival insurance broker Marsh, which has a 54-strong team of professionals. Howden Insurance is also active in European private equity.


These firms have benefited in recent years from private equity sponsors paying greater attention to a range of relevant insurance-related risk management issues as part of the transaction process before, during and after completion of a deal.