Jacques Rodolphe Saadé

Date of death: Sunday, 24 June 2018

Number of Readers: 18

Known asJacques R. Saadé

SpecialtyFounder Chairman of the CMA CGM Group

Date of birth 7 February 1937

Date of death24 June 2018

Jacques R. Saadé (February 7, 1937 - June 24, 2018) was a French- Lebanese born businessman, living in Marseille, France. He was the Founder Chairman of the CMA CGM Group, a French container transportation and shipping company, third largest in the world.
Jacques R. Saadé was born on 7 February 1937 in Tripoli, Lebanon. He graduated from the London School of Economics in 1957 and took over the family business after the death of his father. His father had “established plants in Syria, we were producing tobacco, cotton seed, olive oil, ice, etc.”.
Based on his fathers advice, Saadé did an internship in New York to learn about shipping after his graduation. This is where he discovered the container (capacity: one cubic metre) used by the American army during the Vietnam war. In a Les Echos article, Saadé said: “I thought the container was an excellent idea for transporting goods as it was closed, easy and quick.”
The 1978 War in Lebanon prompted him to move to Marseille. This is where he set up Compagnie maritime d’affrètement (CMA) with his brother Johnny on September 13 the same year. The company initially operated services between Marseille, Beirut and Syria. Saadé said: “I wanted the sea. Marseille is beautiful and the sea looks a little like that in Beirut.”
In the beginning there was family tension between Jacques Saadé and his brother Johnny. After difficult family disputes, Jacques Saadé took the helm alone.
In 1983, Saadé made the decision to cross the Suez Canal and extended the company lines to Mina-Qaboos in the Gulf of Oman. Jacques Saadé was trying to prepare the company for the "Far East" to win a competitive advantage over other carriers.
In 1986, after noticing that volumes from Asia were constantly on the rise, he decided to extend CMA's shipping lines to Asia (including Japan). He later traveled to China himself in 1992 to open the first regional office in Shanghai, entrusting the management of the company's development in Asia to John Wang, a professor at the Shanghai Maritime University. 
In 1996 Jacques Saadé acquired CGM (Compagnie Générale Maritime) following privatization.
Two years later in 1998 came acquisition by CMA of the National Australian Line ANL and in the following year 1999 merger of CMA and CGM and creation of the CMA CGM Group.
In 2006, Saadé concludes the acquisition of DELMAS and the CMA CGM Group becomes the third largest shipping Group in the world. Three additional acquisitions were made in 2007: Chinese Company Cheng Lie Navigation Ltd, U.S. Lines, and COMANAV.
At the height of the crisis in 2009, the shipping industry was badly affected. Jacques R. Saadé was opposed to breaking up the Group. Supported by his son Rodolphe Saadé, and daughter Tanya Saadé, he was convinced container transport sector would bounce back. In 2010, CMA CGM signed an agreement with the family-run industrial Turkish group YILDIRIM. The agreement enabled the Group to strengthen its financial structure and secure finance for its investment plans. This also later led him to invest, notably in building the Group’s first three 16,000 teu vessels: the CMA CGM Marco Polo, the CMA CGM Alexander Von Humboldt, and the CMA CGM Jules Verne.
In 2011, he built the Group’s headquarters in Marseille: the CMA CGM Tower designed by Zaha Hadid, 147m in height with 33 floors. Today the CMA CGM Group is the city’s biggest employer (2,400 staff).
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. The French President met Jacques Saadé again in 2015 for the inauguration of the CMA CGM Bougainville in Port of Le Havre.
In 2017, Jacques Saadé appointed Rodolphe Saadé Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group. Later that year, Jacques Saadé appointed Rodolphe Saadé Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group while he was himself appointed Founder Chairman.


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