Under the Marsh McLennan banner together with Oliver Wyman and Mercer, professional services firm Marsh pulls in global revenues of around $6.5 billion through its insurance broking and risk consulting and management lines, with a workforce of more than 30,000 active in 130-plus countries worldwide and primary Middle East branches in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The latter office, in Dubai, has now launched a dedicated China desk aimed at capitalising on the increasing Chinese investment presence in the Middle East and Africa – driven by the country’s mega-billion dollar Belt and Road infrastructure initiative connecting two thirds of the globe. The number of Chinese visitors to Dubai last year was up by close to 10 percent, with Chinese President Xi Jinping among them in the middle of the year.
“There is exponential growth opportunities but it’s starting from a low base,” said Marsh Middle East and Africa CEO Christos Adamantiadis, who was appointed to the newly combined role last year. “We have already some traction. We have found a few projects in Africa but it’s not restricted to Africa. There’s also Chinese investment in the Middle East. Our main focus is China and Chinese contractors and principles.”
While the UAE is considered something of a safe harbour, with Dubai attracting nearly three quarters of a billion in residential real estate investment from mainland China in 2017, the greater risk profile of the Middle East and Africa is a lot less flattering – the region home to more than half of the globe’s high-risk hot-spots on the Control Risk Group’s 2019 RiskMap – including in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq – the latter where Marsh hopes to receive an insurance brokerage licence this year.
In terms of the Middle East and North Africa, Marsh in a survey of more than 12,500 executives worldwide for last year’s World Economic Forum identified an energy price shock as the top regional risk, followed by unemployment, terrorist attacks and the failure of regional or global governance – highlighting, according to the firm, ‘the deep fissures within and among many of the region’s countries’. Globally, the failure of national governance is now the second greatest concern worldwide.
Meanwhile, globally, Marsh is in the process of acquiring UK-based Risk, Reinsurance & Employee Benefits firm Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) in a deal worth $5.4 billion – with JLT specialised in the energy, mining, healthcare, construction, marine, and aerospace sectors. The firm itself has a headcount of 10,000-plus with operations in 40 territories, including a base in the UAE and a partner network throughout the Middle East region.
“The acquisition of Jardine Lloyd Thompson creates a compelling value proposition for our clients, our colleagues and our shareholders. The complementary fit between our companies creates a platform to deliver exceptional service to clients and opportunities for our colleagues,” said Dan Glaser, President and CEO of Marsh McLennan. “I am confident that with the addition of the talented colleagues of JLT, Marsh & McLennan will be an even stronger and more dynamic company.”