CMA CGM, a man’s journey
More than a company, CMA CGM is above all the story of the incredible entrepreneurial boldness of a man, Jacques Saadé, who has built in a few decades a family group that is now the third largest shipping Group worldwide.
Jacques Saadé arrived with his family to Marseille in 1978 from his native country Lebanon, back then torn apart by civil war. He selected France to build from scratch a regional maritime transport company, the Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement (CMA).
Initially, the CMA owned one vessel deployed between Marseille, Beirut and Latakia. Yet as early as 1983, Jacques Saadé decides to open his horizons beyond the Mediterranean Sea and crosses the Suez Canal to expand lines to the Red Sea, then to Asia. An initiative reported by many as perilous or even foolish for a small regional player. But the audacity turns out to be rewarding and the Group continued its growth: Jacques Saadé is the first and foremost to bet on China and opens the first CMA offices as early as 1992, ten years prior to the entry of the country into the WTO.
In the early 1990s, the entrepreneurial adventure becomes a family one: Rodolphe Saadé and Tanya Saadé join their father in CMA, contributing to the corporation’s growth and fulfilling the wishes of Jacques Saadé to see CMA become a successful family business.
New development in 1997: the CMA becomes CMA CGM after acquiring the Compagnie Générale Maritime (CGM), and became the only major French player in maritime transport. Following this acquisition, the Group grew significantly and reached the 12th position in world shipping industry.
History does not stop there. CMA CGM becomes the 3rd worldwide shipping group in 2006. This spectacular development is the result of a strong organic growth – opening of new lines, reinforcement of its vessel fleet - and an external growth strategy with the acquisition of regional maritime companies. In 2006, the Group purchases DELMAS and strengthens his positioning in Africa in high-potential markets. During the same year, CMA CGM extends its expertise and services by increasingly investing in multimodal services: road, river and rail transport, port terminals and container terminals.
In 2008, while global maritime transport is affected by the worst economic crisis in modern history, CMA CGM illustrates its resilience through two major events, a proof of its ambition and its confidence in facing the future. First, the opening in 2010 of the CMA CGM Tower, masterpiece of contemporary architecture signed by Zaha Hadid, which towers Marseille’s port and testifies of the sustainable commitment of the company to the city.
And then in 2013, CMA CGM inaugurates, in the presence of the French president, the CMA CGM JULES VERNE, the largest container ship in the world under French flag at the time.
CMA CGM: a world leader and a major economic player
CMA CGM: a global leader in container shipping