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It’s not retirement, says Joe Plumeri, the chief executive officer of Willis Group Holdings, but just another phase in his long career.

After 12 years of steering the insurance brokerage firm through turbulent waters Plumeri will leave his post on Jan. 7. He brought the firm through private ownership by the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts to public ownership in 2001; through the attack on the World Trade Center; New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s prosecution over alleged kickbacks and steering of business in return for contingent commissions and the $2.1 billion acquisition of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs in 2008 as the great recession hit.

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