Willis said total revenues were up by 20% to $390m (£250m) in the third quarter from $325m (£208m) in the same period last year.

Operating cash earnings were $46m (£29m), up from $25m (£16m) last year. This represents net income excluding non-cash charges for performance based options as well as goodwill amortisation and the effect of disposing of operations. The non-cash charges for the performance-based options were $18m (£12m) in the third quarter and $145m (£93m) in the same quarter last year.

They are part of a deal struck by the directors as part of the 1998 buy-out arrangement with KKR for meeting or beating targets in 2001 and 2002.

Willis has now paid 81% of the total estimated charge based on the current quarter-end share price.