Insurance Broker Willis Suspends 401(k) Match, Freezes Pension

Global insurance broker Willis Group holdings has put its 401(k) match on hold for 2009.

The company said the move helped its first quarter of 2009 by $3 million, and is expected to show a $9 million assist to the full year’s results.

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission regulatory filing, Willis has also announced plans to freeze its U.S. defined benefit plan to future accruals as of mid-May 2009.

From that move, Willis said it will recognize a $12 million second-quarter gain, and that it anticipates its full-year charge for the plan will be about $9 million, compared to an expected $39 million without the plan freeze, according to the filing.

“In first quarter 2009, the benefit of a stabilization in rates in the reinsurance market was more than offset by the continuing soft market in other sectors and the adverse impact of the weakened economic environment across the globe,” Willis said in the SEC document. “Our North American operations have been particularly impacted by the weakened economic environment and we have seen sharp first quarter 2009 declines in revenues from our US construction business, as many projects are postponed or cancelled. “