CMA CGM Group has confirmed the death of its founding president Jacques R. Saadé.
In a public statement, the company said it was “with infinite sadness” Mr Saadé had died on 24 June at the age of 81.
“Jacques R. Saadé dedicated his life to CMA CGM,” the company said in a statement. “An extraordinary visionary and entrepreneur, he made the Group into a world leader in the maritime transport of containers, developing the company in more than 160 countries, while maintaining the family dimension with its values.”
Mr Saadé left war-torn Lebanon to protect his family and founded the Compagnie Maritime d’Affretement (CMA) in 1978, anticipating world trade growth.
He started with four employees, a single ship and just one maritime service between Marseilles and Beirut.
According to CMA CGM, the year 1983 was significant as Mr Saadé sent his first ships beyond the Mediterranean and had them transit the Suez Canal.
In 1986 he launched a service linking North Europe to Asia and in 1992 opened CMA’s first office in Shanghai, believing China would “become the world’s factory”.
Acquisitions formed a key part of his strategy, including CGM in 1986, ANL in 1998 and Delmas in 2005.
Jacques R. Saadé bankrolled construction of the CMA CGM Tower in Marseilles in 2006, headquarters of the Group and now a symbol of the city of Marseilles.
It was his money that went to the construction of the CMA CGM Tower in 2006, headquarters of the Group and now a symbol of the city of Marseilles.
In 2013 he received one of the highest decorations of the City of Hamburg, the Admiralitäts-Portugaleser and also received an Honorary Doctorate from the American University in Lebanon, as well as Lebanon’s National Order of the Cedar.
Other honours followed including in 2015 when he was conferred the title of Commander of the French Legion of Honor by the President of France.
The following year he was named Commander of the Ordre National du Mérite Maritime.
In February 2017, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, he appointed his son Rodolphe Saadé to the position of CMA CGM Group chief executive and then appointed him chairman of the Board of Directors on 24 November of the same year.