France’s shipping cluster gathered to mourn Jacques R. Saadé
The funerals of the founding president of the CMA CGM Group were held in Marseilles
In accordance with Jacques R. Saadé’s wishes, who passed away at the age of 81 on June 24th, a funeral ceremony was held in Marseilles at the La Major Cathedral on Friday, June 29th.
The French shipowner, of Lebanese origin, was in 1978 the founding President of the CMA CGM Group – currently headed by his son Rodolphe Saadé, a leading worldwide shipping group whose 494 vessels call 420 ports in the world on 5 continents and in 2017 carried 19 million TEUs, enjoying a presence in 160 countries and through 755 agencies network employing 30,000 people worldwide including 2,400 in its headquarters in Marseilles. Saadé kept strong ties to this place where he had built the CMA CGM Tower in 2006, which has become a symbol of the French city.
A pioneering entrepreneur among today’s container ship giants, Jaques Saadé was driving thrust behind the third largest container global carrier in the world and dedicated his whole life to it.
In 2015 he was named a Commander of the French Legion of Honor by the President of the Republic and on February 7, 2017, on his 80th birthday, he appointed his son Rodolphe to the position of CEO of CMA CGM Group and then Chairman of the board on November 24 same year.
After moving from Lebanon to Marseilles in order to protect his family from Civil War, Saadé founded Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement CMA in September 1978, beginning with just 4 employees, 1 ship and 1 line between Marseilles and Beirut.
Having started a Transatlantic service using two chartered ships, in 1983 he sent his first ships beyond the Mediterranean to transit the Suez Canal and in 1986 he launched a service linking North Europe to Asia, while in 1992 opened CMA’s first office in Shanghai, anticipating his vision that China was the place for the future.
His strategic acquisitions allowed him to strengthen the company’s presence in key markets: former state owned CGM in 1996, ANL in 1998, Delmas in 2005, COMANAV and US Lines in 2007.
Meanwhile, along with millions of container movements, passenger services arrived in 1996, initially round-the-world and to the French West Indies, to grow most in the Europe-Far East trades.
Between 2006 and 2012 CMA CGM also featured in its portfolio Ponant Cruises (which had been founded in 1988) and added its fleet of small cruise ships Le Ponant, Le Levant and Le Diamant; the three were joined in 2011 by 2 new 264-berth ships named L’Australe and Le Boréale, with two more to follow as Ponant was sold on to venture capital interests.
During 2017 and 2018, CMA CGM also added 18 APL ships to its passenger roster, giving it by far the largest fleet of passenger-carrying container ships in the world; the flagship is the 18,000 TEU CMA CGM Antoine de St Exupery.