CMA CGM names CEO Rodolphe Saade as chairman amid container shipping industry recovery

Rodolphe Saade, CEO and now also chairman of French shipping firm CMA CGM.
Rodolphe Saade, CEO and now also chairman of French shipping firm CMA CGM.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - CMA CGM Group, the world's third-largest container shipping company which bought Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines in 2016, gave chief executive Rodolphe Saade the additional role of chairman after the French liner swung to a profit in the third quarter.

Saade, who was appointed CEO in February, will take over from his father, current chairman and founder Jacques Saade, according to an e-mailed statement from the company over the weekend.

Rodolphe Saade's strategy as CEO "has delivered very good operational and financial results," the senior Saade said in the statement. "The Group is strong. I am confident in its future. He has the full support of the Board of Directors," the management team and workers, he said.

The change at CMA CGM comes more than a year after AP Moeller-Maersk, the world's biggest container shipping company, reshuffled its executives as a consolidation from mergers and failures takes hold in the broader shipping sector. A recovery this year has been aided by a rebound in the US and Europe, as well as higher rates following the 2016 collapse of South Korea's Hanjin Shipping Co.

Earnings are expected to show a "strong improvement" this year, CMA CGM said in the statement. It posted a net income of US$323 million for the quarter through Sept 30, compared with a US$268 million loss a year earlier. Sales jumped 28 per cent to US$5.7 billion as the company moved 12 per cent more freight than a year earlier. The increase also accompanied a 14 per cent rise in average revenue per container it shipped.

The European company ordered nine ships that can each carry 22,000 boxes, which will have liquefied natural gas propulsion system. These vessels will be the biggest in operation when they are delivered starting in 2020.