In 2013, CMA CGM is celebrating its 35th Anniversary, 35 years of successful growth continuously driven by passion, the passion of one man, Jacques Saadé, for the company he built, his passion for the people who contributed to its success, his passion for world trade in which CMA CGM played such a significant part, his passion for the vessels which were built and which growing number and size illustrate the success of the original idea and the drive behind it.
Discover the first article of our saga…
1978: the adventure starts: on September 13, Jacques Saadé creates the CMA
Once upon a time, during the Civil War in Lebanon, a young entrepreneur decided to leave Beirut for Marseilles to shelter his family. Soon thereafter, in September 1978, he created the “COMPAGNIE MARITIME D’AFFRETEMENT (CMA)”, a shipping company, to trade between the Levant and the Western Mediterranean. Already, Jacques Saadé had the intuition that the concept of unitized cargo in metal shipping container developed by Malcolm Mc Lean in 1956 was the future of dry cargo transportation.
“In 1978 during the war in Lebanon, I decided to come to France in order to protect my family. I chose Marseille. We did not know at the time whether it would be for a few weeks or a few months. We have been here now for 35 years. To give you some background, it was while I was doing an internship in the United States as part of my studies that I discovered the container. It was at the start of the Vietnam War and the American army was using the container to transport supplies. From that moment I realised the importance of this mode of transport and its future in maritime trade.
So on 13 September 1978, I decided with four others to launch a shipping line dedicated to the transport of containers between Marseille, Beirut in Lebanon and Lattakia in Syria.”, tells Jacques R. Saadé.
Also, though operating his company in France, Jacques Saadé positioned it resolutely on the international scene, aware that the prevailing culture in French liner shipping relying on former colonial empire and on protectionism was doomed to come to an end. His intuition proved right for he is today leading the world third biggest container carrier. Jacques Saadé did not have any preconceived inhibitions and knew that the future laid beyond Europe, the future is global and Asia would become the powering engine.