Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGMGroup, Jacques Saadé was born in 1937 in Beirut, Lebanon.
Having graduated from the London School of Economics in 1957, Jacques Saadé took over the family business from his father in 1958.
In 1978, when the war started in Lebanon, he decided to move to France. In Marseille, Jacques Saadé formed Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement (CMA), which would later become CMA CGM.
A visionary and recognized expert in international trade, Jacques Saadé was convinced early on of the need to develop a worldwide shipping Group. Consequently, in 1992 he opened CMA’s first office in China, in Shanghai. China quickly became part of the corporate strategy of the Group which became the first container shipping company in France.
From 1996 to 2008, Jacques Saadé pursued the Group’s expansion via external growth. He acquired CGM (Compagnie Générale Maritime) when it was privatised in 1996 and then merged the two in 1999 to form CMA CGM.
Jacques Saadé went on to acquire a range of entities that would transform the company into a leading worldwide shipping Group:
Thanks to this proactive strategic approach, the CMA CGM Group became the world’s third largest shipping line in 2005.
In addition to overseeing the Group’s rapid development, Jacques Saadé focused on the success of his worldwide shipping Group, by building an efficient fleet of vessels equipped with the most innovative technology. He made the strategic decision very early on for CMA CGM to invest in large containerships and developed a culture and environmental policy to address the issue of climate change.
In 2012, the CMA CGM Group took delivery of the CMA CGM MARCO POLO, the first vessel in the 16,020 container category, measuring 396 metres in length, and equipped with the latest environmental technology. In 2013, the sisterships of this first true giant of the seas, the CMA CGM ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLT and CMA CGM JULES VERNE, will join the fleet.
Strongly attached to Marseille, the company’s birthplace, Jacques Saadé decided to build the CMA CGM Tower, the new Head Office of CMA CGM. He entrusted the architect Zaha Hadid (2004 Pritzker Prize) to design the building. Overlooking the port of Marseille, the 33-storey CMA CGM Tower is the Group’s command and control centre and the workplace for 2,500 employees since 2011.
Under the leadership of Jacques Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CMA CGM is today the world’s third largest container shipping company and French market leader. CMA CGM serves more than 400 ports with a fleet of 428 vessels, and in 2012 carried more than 11.4 million containers. Present in 150 countries on five continents via a global network of 650 agencies, this worldwide shipping Group employs 18,000 people worldwide, including 4,700 in France. In 2013, it reported revenue of $15.9 billion.
Jacques Saadé has received numerous awards in France and elsewhere for his outstanding achievements. In 2007, he was named Personality of the Year by the international magazine Seatrade. He also received the Manley-Bendall award from France’s Académie de Marine and an Honorary Degree from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Alexandria.
In October 2012, Jacques Saadé received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the English container shipping magazine Containerisation International.
Jacques Saadé has been President of the France-Lebanese Chamber of Commerce since 1986. He is also head of the France-Jordan business leaders’ council within Medef International. Jacques Saadé was made an Officer of France’s Légion d’Honneur in 2009 and is a recipient of Lebanon’s National Order of the Cedar.
In 2013, Jacques R. Saade has been awarded of one of the highest and most honorable decorations of the City of Hamburg: “the Admiralitätsportugaleser
En 2014, Jacques Saadé reçoit le titre de Docteur Honoris Causa de l’Université Américaine du Liban (LAU).