CMA CGM’s CEO Forges Ahead With China, Media Deals

Rodolphe Saade Talks Company's Plan, Market's Future
Rodolphe Saade in front of a container. (Christophe Morin/Bloomberg News)

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CMA CGM SA CEO Rodolphe Saade said the world’s third-largest container line has reached new supply deals in China and an investment in a French online media company.

The shipping firm controlled by his family reached agreements for methanol supply and for new vessels to be built in China, said Saade, who is part of a delegation of French CEOs accompanying President Emmanuel Macron on a visit to the Asian country.

The executive said he’s ordering new oceangoing vessels despite a slowdown in the industry following a boom during the pandemic, when some freight rates rose to record levels.

“I see that the world economy is growing every year around 2% to 3%, so this is going to be absorbing quite a lot of capacity,” he said in an interview. “There are some that will do better than others, but overall I would say that there is growth and that is why we are ordering new ships.”

Environmental regulations are forcing a shift to new energies to power boats, requiring their replacement.

“We’ll be scrapping most probably some of our old containerships and replacing with new tonnage,” he said.

The CEO took over from his late father, who founded the Marseille-based company, and has been spending some of the windfall profits accrued during the COVID-19 health crisis, including on media assets.

CMA CGM plans to take a 16% stake in French online media company Brut, after raising its stake in broadcaster M6, Saade said.

The shipper’s exposure to the group of companies controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani is “very small” through an investment in a port terminal that is “working well,” Saade added.

CMA CGM ranks No. 6 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest global freight carriers.

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