In the past few weeks the shipping industries has lost two remarkable men whose influence on the industry was enormous. On 24th June Jacques Saadé, founding president of the CMA CGM Group, died at the age of 81.
Saadé dedicated his life to CMA CGM. An extraordinary visionary and entrepreneur, he made the Group into a world leader in container shipping, expanding the company to more than 160 countries, while maintaining it as a family enterprise. And, unknown to many, 118 of his ships carried a few passengers on their rounds.
After moving from The Lebanon to Marseilles in order to protect his family from Civil War, Saadé founded the Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement (CMA), on September 13, 1978. This move anticipated major developments in world trade, in which the container has played a determining role.
He began with four employees, a single ship and one line between Marseilles and Beirut. Then began the company’s extraordinary development. Having started a Transatlantic service using two chartered ships, in 1983 he sent his first ships beyond the Mediterranean to 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. His vision that China was the place to be turned out to be correct.
His strategic acquisitions thereafter allowed him to strengthen the company’s presence in key markets, CGM in France in 1996, ANL in Australia in 1998 and Delmas to Africa in 2005. By 2006, CMA CGM was the third largest container shipping company in the world. In 2015, he was named a Commander of the French Legion of Honour by the President of the Republic.
On 21st July Corrado Antonini, the former CEO and Chairman of Fincantieri, died in Rome at the age of 84. Antonini was a strong leader who held many roles at Fincantieri, ultimately executive chairman, and who chaired numerous industry groups. During his decades at Fincantieri, cruise ship orders blossomed, with series contracts and next-generation designs for major companies like Carnival Corp. & plc, still its main customer. The world’s leading cruise shipbuilder, Fincantieri has produced 85 cruise ships since 1990, while 47 more are currently being designed or built in the group’s yards. Antonini began his career in the steel sector before moving into shipbuilding, becoming Fincantieri’s general manager and joining the board in 1984. He became managing director in 1985 and CEO three years later. In 1994 he added the chairman’s title, then became executive chairman from 2000 until his retirement in December 2012.
The shipping industry should be very grateful for the wonderful efforts of these two great men. May they rest in peace.