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MARSEILLE: June 29, 2018. The French government has joined the maritime industry in paying tribute to the passing of Jacques R. Saadé, founding president of the CMA CGM Group, who died on June 24, 2018.

jacques saade 1937 2018In addition to Lebanese minister Michel Pharon, attending the funeral at La Major cathedral in Marseille today included Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Elisabeth Borne, French minister of Transport, as well as local, national and international dignitaries.

Some 30,000 employees observed a minute’s silence in the 160 countries where CMA CGM operates.

Five CMA CMG vessels anchored in the Bay of Marseilles in tribute (below): CMA CGM containerships Marco Polo and Leo, RoRo vessels Aknoul and Mont Ventoux and APL’s Gwangyang.

In June 2013 François Hollande, president of the French Republic, inaugurated the CMA CGM Jules Verne, flagship of the fleet at that time.

Saadé was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1937 and after graduating from the London School of Economics in 1957 he took over the family business. In 1978 he moved to France, where he set up the Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement (CMA) and in 1992 opened the company’s first office in China.

In 1996 he acquired Compagnie Générale Maritime (CGM) when it was privatized which led to the birth of the CMA CGM Group in 1999.

CMA CGM funeralThe purchase was the first of many that would see the group become a world leader in container shipping. Subsequent acquisitions included Australian National Line (1998); the French company Delmas (2005); Taiwan’s Cheng Lie Navigation Company (2007); U.S. Lines (2007); and shortsea operators MacAndrews (2002); Comanav (2007); OPDR (2015) and Containerships (2018).

Jacques Saadé was recognised both in France and abroad: In 2007 he received the Manley-Bendall award from France’s Académie de Marine, and an Honorary Degree from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Alexandria.

In 2013 the City of Hamburg bestowed on him its ‘Admiralitäts-Portugaleser’ award and the following year he received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the Lebanese American University. In 2015 he was named Commander of the French Legion of Honor and In 2016 made Commandeur in the Ordre National du Mérite Maritime. He posthumously received Lebanon’s highest distinction, the Lebanese Merit Honor medal.

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