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.
You’ll find below the third episode of our saga dedicated to Jacques Saadé’s Group:
1992 the first CMA office is opened in China
In 1992, CMA opened its first office in Shanghai and the management of the local organization was entrusted to John Wang, another bold decision when most companies were relying on expatriates to manage their offices overseas. Today, John Wang still leads the China organization which has grown to 64 offices manned by over 1500 staff. “Even before mainland China ports were accessible to main liner vessels, Jacques Saadé decided that the strategy of CMA CGM should focus on the Far East with China as its corner stone. You bring together at both ends of the line, teams of highly motivated strong professionals, you give them the right tools, you give them direction and success comes naturally” says Farid Salem, CMA CGM Executive Officer, who was part of the initial group in 1978 and stood beside Jacques Saadé to develop the Group for the last 35 years.
As from early 1990, gaining experience in the North-South trades, Jacques Saadé promptly realized the importance of reefer markets when it carried reefers from Europe to the Middle East Gulf and back from Indian Subcontinent; Massive investments in latest generation state-of-the-art reefer containers were decided and the reefer department became a Business Unit in its own right in the 2000’s.
1994: creation of the French Asia Line (FAL)
In 1994, CMA sailed “down under”, connecting Europe with Australia. The year after, the “Feeder Associate System” (FAS) was created to manage all feeder operations in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Indian Sub-Continent. Time was ripe to take a big step forward with the creation of “French Asia Line” (FAL) which to this date remains, together with its seven siblings, the back bone of the Company.
End of the 1990’s, a giant is born: CMA and CGM merge
Two years later in 1996, the French government privatized the Compagnie Générale Maritime (CGM), one of France oldest shipping company. CMA driven by its “Spirit of Imagination”, decided to purchase CGM. In 1997 CMA CGM Holding Company was created, leading in 1999 to the merging of CMA and CGM, the new company becoming CMA CGM. Though the absorption of CGM was not an easy feat, it nevertheless gave the Group a new position and Jacques Saadé decided that all conditions were now within reach to join the top of the Major League. At that time, CMA CGM becomes the world’s n°12 with 78 vessels and 260,000 TEU per year.