Fee and commission income (2003): £216m.

Pre-tax profit (2003): £4.9m

Address: 8-11 Crescent

London EC3N 2LY

Tel: 020 7480 1000

Fax: 020 7480 1280

Email: colin.bird@besso.co.uk

Website: www.besso.co.uk
Year established: 1995

History: Besso Holdings is the holding company of London insurance broker Besso, which was founded in 1967 and bought by Colin Bird and his colleagues in 1985.

After building up the business, it was sold to Jardine Insurance Brokers International but was bought back in 1995 with financial backing from Wachovia Bank and venture capital firm Marsh Insurance Holdings.

Besso initially specialised in selling insurance for North American property, casualty and all forms of professional indemnity, but now also provides international non-marine, aviation and marine insurance.

Profits have grown 73% a year, from £1m in 1999 to £5.3m in 2001. In November 2003, Besso took a significant step into UK insurance with the purchase of fellow Lloyd's Insurance Broker, CBC UK Ltd.

Major shareholders: Wachovia Banking Group, Marsh Insurance Holdings Ltd, management

Subsidiary companies: Global Flying Insurance Services, Waterborne Underwriting Agency, Harlequin Insurance

Number of UK employees (average for 2003): 170

Chief officer: Colin Bird, chief executive

Biography: Colin Bird began his insurance career in 1966 as a junior clerk in a binding authority department at CE Heath. He joined Swann & Everett as a junior broker in 1979 and moved to Alexander Howden the following year.

At Alexander Howden he was promoted through various levels of directorship until 1979, when he was appointed chief executive of the newly-formed North American division and full director of Howden's main broking board.

He moved to JH Minet for a year as executive director responsible for the casualty department. He joined Besso in 1985, where he has been chief executive and chairman. He is now chief executive of Besso Holdings.