CMA CGM Founder Jacques Saade Dies at 81

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

June 25, 2018

Jacques Saade, founder, CMA CGM. Copyright REA

Jacques Saade, founder, CMA CGM. Copyright REA

Mr. Jacques R. Saade, founding president of the CMA CGM Group, died on June 24, 2018 at the age of 81, according to the company.
Jacques R. Saadé dedicated his life to CMA CGM.  An extraordinary visionary and entrepreneur, he made the group into a world leader in the maritime transport of containers, developing the company in more than 160 countries, while maintaining the family dimension with its values.  After having left Lebanon to protect his family for Civil War, Jacques R Saadé founded the Compagnie Maritime d’Affretement (CMA) 40 years ago, on September 13, 1978, anticipating major developments in world trade and convinced that the container would have a determining role in world maritime transport. 
He began with four employees, a single ship and only one maritime service between Marseilles and Beirut.  Then began the company’s extraordinary development.  In 1983, he sent his first ships beyond the Mediterranean and had them cross the Suez Canal.  In 1986 he launched a service linking North Europe to Asia.  In 1992 he opened CMA’s first office in Shanghai, persuaded that China would become the world’s factory. 
He combined vigorous internal growth with strategic acquisitions allowing him to strengthen the company’s presence on key markets: CGM in 1986, ANL in 1998 and Delmas in 2005.  In 2006, the company became the third largest container shipping company in the world.
With strong ties to the city of Marseilles, where the Group was founded, Jacques R. Saadé built the CMA CGM Tower in 2006, the new headquarters of the Group and now a symbol of the city of Marseilles. 
He was always attentive to strengthening the ties between France and Lebanon. 
Jacques R. Saadé was a recognized industry leader with a worldwide reputation.  In 2013 he received one of the highest decorations of the City of Hamburg, the Admiralitäts-Portugaleser.  He also received an Honorary Doctorate from the American University in Lebanon, as well as Lebanon’s National Order of the Cedar.   In 2014 Jacques R. Saadé received an award from the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) for encouraging the economic development  and conveying a positive image of the Mediterranean Basin, as well as promoting peace and tolerance worldwide.   
In 2015, he is conferred the title of Commander of the French Legion of Honor by the President of France.  The following year he was named Commander of the Ordre National du Mérite Maritime. 
On 7 February 2017, on his 80th birthday, Jacques R. Saadé, appointed Rodolphe Saadé to the position of CEO of the CMA CGM Group and then appointed him Chairman of the Board of Directors on the 24th of November, the same year. 
Jacques Saadé: Entrepreneur
After graduating from the London School of Economics in 1957, Jacques Saadétook over the family business the following year. In 1978, he moved to France, where he set up the Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement (CMA).
Anticipating major developments in world trade, and convinced that the container would have a determining role in these changes, he opened CMA’s first office in China, in Shanghai in 1992. China quickly became the most important market for CMA, which became the number one container shipping company in France.
From 1996 to 2008, Jacques Saadé pursued the Group’s expansion via external growth. In particular he acquired Compagnie Générale Maritime (CGM) when it was privatized in 1996, then merged CMA and CGM, whichled to the birth of the CMA CGM Group in 1999.
This acquisition, a turning point in the Group’s history, was the first step in a series of targeted acquisitions that would contribute to positioning CMA CGM Group as a world leader in the shipping industry:
-- the government-owned Australian National Line (ANL) in 1998;
-- the French company DELMAS in 2005;
-- the Chinese company Taiwan’s Cheng Lie Navigation Co., Ltd. (CNC);
-- the American firm U.S. LINES in 2007;
-- the company MacAndrews;
-- The Morocco’s company COMANAV.
Thus, in 2005, the CMA CGM Group became the world’s third-largest shipping company.
Visionary Leader
His long-term vision of the industry is also reflected in the construction of an efficient fleet of vessels, equipped with the most innovative technology. To build the CMA CGM vessel fleet, Jacques Saadé decided early on to invest in large containerships while being particularly attentive to environmental issues and climate change. In this regard, in 2005, the Group set itself the goal of reducing CO2 emissions per container by 50% by the year 2015.
In June 2013, and for the first time since 1962, it was the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, welcomed by Jacques Saadé, who inaugurated the CMA CGM JULES VERNE, flagship of the CMA CGM fleet at the time.
Today, the CMA CGM Group, of which Jacques Saadé is the Chairman of the board, is a leading worldwide shipping group.
CMA CGM serves more than 420 ports with a fleet of 494 vessels. In 2016, it carried more than 18.95 million TEUs. Present in 160 countries on five continents via a global network of 755 agencies, the Group employs more than 30,000 people worldwide, including 4,500 in France. In 30,000, it reported revenue of $21.1 billion.
With his strong attachment to Marseilles, the company’s birthplace, Jacques Saadé decided to build the CMA CGM Tower in 2006, which would be the new Head Office. The architect Zaha Hadid, winner of the 2004 Pritzker Architecture Prize, was entrusted with the design of the new building. Nerve centre of the company, overlooking the port of Marseilles, the 33-story CMA CGM Tower is the Group’s command and control centre and workplace for 2,400 employees since 2011.
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