Lebanese shipping pioneer Jacques Saadé dies at 81

saade shipping container

Jacques Saadé, a pioneer in global shipping and transportation, has died at age 81, officials confirmed.

Saadé, who was born in Lebanon in 1937, was the founder of the France-based shipping company CMA CGM Group.

The entrepreneur immigrated to France near the start of the Lebanese Civil War, and started a maritime shipping operation with four employees and a single ship.

With only one container, Saadé started a maritime service between Marseilles and Beirut.

“He anticipated major developments in world trade and was convinced that the container would have a determining role in world maritime transport,” the company said in a news release.

CMA CGM Group grew quickly, as he developed links between North Europe, North Africa and Asia. Saadé opened an office in Shanghai in 1992 after recognizing the major shipping opportunities in China.

By 2006, the company was recognized as the third largest container shipping company in the world.

Jacques Saadé was the founder of CMA CGM Group. (CMA CGM Group)
Jacques Saadé was the founder of CMA CGM Group. (CMA CGM Group)

Saadé died in Marseilles on June 24.

“I learned with a great sadness the death of M Jacques Saadé, CMG CGM’s founder, family-owned company and french flagship,” said Edouard Philippe, the prime minister of France. “From China, where he was one of the first to foresee the incredible potential, tribute to this visionary entrepreneur.”

In a statement, the company said he was always attentive to strengthening the ties between France and Lebanon.

Saadé is the recipient of the Admiralitäts-Portugaleser, one of the highest decorations of the city of Hamburg. He also received Lebanon’s National Order of the Cedar.

The company is now run by his son, Rodolphe Saadé. CMA CGM Group has more than 30,000 employees worldwide, and a fleet of 494 vessels.

Read more about Jacques Saadé at this link.

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