The history of the CMA CGM Group, its evolution and successes are intimately linked to Jacques Saadé, founder of what is today the world’s third largest container shipping company. The Group’s 35th anniversary is an opportunity to look back on the past and the decisions taken by Jacques Saadé and his management team to reach this status.
Recognised as an expert in container shipping, Jacques Saadé received the “Lifetime Achievement” award in 2011 from the magazine Containerisation International. In awarding it to Jacques Saadé, it was the Group’s path to success
« … which has just been recognised, as well as the owner’s commitment to the development of international trade, his role in the evolution of the industry and of course CMA CGM’s standing.” »(Jean-Luc Crozel – La Provence)
Thirty-four years is a relatively short time between the launch of the first lines to Lebanon in 1978 and those of the Group’s emblematic routes, such as FAL 1 where the first three 16,000 teu vessels are deployed. There are key dates and decisions to remember.
First there was Jacques Saadé’s discovery of the container in 1958 while doing an internship in the United States. A report on television convinced him that the container for ease and convenience would be the transport of the future. And then, having fled the war in Lebanon to protect his family, he set up CMA in 1978. It was the first step on the road to success for Jacques Saadé and CMA CGM.
Then in 1992, there was the first trip to China which heralded a period of rapid expansion for the Group. The country’s desire to develop made a big impression on Jacques Saadé who immediately recognised the enormous potential it represented. Before returning to Marseille, the decision had been taken to open the Group’s first agency in China.
« Visionary…, he also realised that one day China would become the world’s workshop. » (Jean Luc Crozel – La Provence )
After acquiring CGM in 1997, the Group continued to expand. Jacques Saadé became convinced that the future of container shipping lay with increased capacity vessels that would achieve significant economies of scale. The Group therefore invested in building large capacity vessels that are as efficient on an environmental level as they are effective from a safety point of view, and this despite the economic crisis of 2008-2011. The CMA CGM Group was the first to take delivery of containerships capable of carrying up to 16,000 teus.
You can read Jean Luc Crozel’s article (in French), published 19 October 2012 on the La Provence website: http://www.laprovence.com/actu/leco-en-direct/2010571/jacques-saade-salue-pour-son-parcours.html