Axis Capital Holdings Limited, a Bermuda-based provider of specialty insurance and reinsurance, has announced that a unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies has agreed to sell 1.85 million Axis shares in a block trade.

The shares, which account for 50% of Marsh & McLennan’s stake in Axis, are worth about $56 million. Merrill Lynch has agreed to purchase the common shares and will subsequently sell them on to public investors.

Upon the completion of the sale, Marsh Risk Capital will retain approximately 1.85 million Axis shares, the equivalent to approximately a 1% stake in the company.

Axis Capital provides specialty insurance and treaty reinsurance on a global basis through operating subsidiaries and branch networks based in Bermuda, the US, the UK, Ireland and Switzerland. New York-based Marsh is the world’s largest insurance broker.