US – US-based insurance and consultancy firm Aon has set up a global unit to integrate its investment manager research and hired an Internet entrepreneur to run it.

The move comes after it posted a 10% fall in its fourth quarter consulting net income last week. Its net income slipped to 44 million dollars, on revenues of 304 million dollars.

Aon said in a statement that it has created a Global Research Unit, with offices in London, Chicago, Toronto, Rotterdam and Sydney, to “integrate the proprietary investment manager research generated by its worldwide network”.

The unit will support Aon’s investment consulting businesses and its UK-based multi-manager business Aon Asset Management.

It has hired David Hunter to be director of the unit; he joins from Internet start-up MyVal, which he founded and took to market.

Adrian Swales, chairman of Aon’s global investment practice, said: “David’s appointment is of great significance to our clients and emphasises our ongoing commitment to becoming a world leader in investment manager research and related services.”

“We look forward to continuing to develop our research capabilities.”

Aon had overall fourth-quarter earnings of 177 million dollars on revenues of 2.37 billion dollars.