Willis chief executive buys shares after profits drop.

Joe Plumeri , the Willis boss, has snapped up $5.5m (£3.4m) of the company’s shares in the wake of its drop in third-quarter profit.

The move demonstrates his “supreme confidence” in the company, a spokesman said.

Last week, Willis Group Holdings announced a quarterly net income fall from $67m to $36m, or 25c a share, for the three months to 30 September.

After the results, Plumeri, the Willis chairman and chief executive, said organic growth and other performance indicators showed that the company “continues to deliver impressive growth relative to the industry despite very soft market conditions."

Plumeri bought 250,000 shares in the open market at $21.84 each, according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The purchase on Tuesday last week boosted his stake to nearly 3.2 million shares, or a 2.2% holding in the firm.

Willis’s share price fell to below 22c after the results for the third quarter were announced, but it had picked up to 26c by the end of last week.

The company has made bold moves this year, most notably the $2.1bn buyout of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs Company (HRH), the eighth largest insurance and risk management intermediary in the US. Willis took on $400m of HRH debt as part of the deal.

A company spokesman said: “Mr Plumeri’s share purchase reflects his supreme confidence in the future of this company.”

Plumeri believes the encouraging side of the company’s results – increases in organic growth in commissions and fees and also higher revenues – make his investments a safe purchase.