NEW YORK CITY-Willis North America saidThursday that it has formed a distressed assets practice that willfocus on the insurance risks associated with financiallydistressed, foreclosed or abandoned properties. EVP Brian Ruane,the national real estate and hotel practice leader at Willis, headsthe new initiative.

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“The burst real estate bubble has created an avalanche ofdistressed assets today that only seems to be growing,” Don Bailey,chairman and CEO of Willis North America, says in a release. “Ourobjective is to help all industry players reduce and manage theirrisks and turn distressed assets into productive assets.”

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Under Ruane’s leadership, the new unit will coordinate resourcesfrom across a variety of practices, including real estate andhotel, construction, environmental, executive risks, financialservices and mergers & acquisitions along with the company’sloan protector unit. A spokesman for Willis tells GlobeSt.com theplan is to staff the practice with the existing team for now “andexpand as client demand grows.” Major areas of focus will includeproperty, liability and environmental insurance; forced placedcoverage; insurance for REO assets; professional liabilityinsurance and construction insurance for incomplete projects.

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With 25 years’ experience at Willis, Ruane established the realestate and hotel practice in 2005. It has since become one of thecompany’s largest industry practice areas, according to WillisNorth America, headquartered here. The company announced the newpractice at a Willis seminar, “Distressed Assets: The HiddenRisks,” at the Union League Club in Midtown.

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