CMA CGM, most profitable of French companies

The maritime transport giant gave a profit of 23.5 billion euros in 2022, unprecedented in French economic history.

by Jean-Michel Bezat

A year like this will not come back for a long time for CMA CGM, nor for many French multinationals. The third global shipowner of container ships announced, Friday, March 3, a net profit of 24.9 billion dollars (23.5 billion euros) in 2022, for a turnover of $ 74.5 billion – After an already historical profit of 17.9 billion the previous year.

The company ranks in front of totaling ($ 19.5 billion after 16 billion depreciations on Russia), the car manufacturer Stellantis (16.8 billion), the world number one LVMH luxury (14.1 billion ) and the BNP Paribas bank (10.2 billion).

Sign of the brilliant health of the Saadé family group, with 155,000 employees, a fleet of 580 container ships and 250 maritime lines, the gross operating result (EBITDA) reaches 33.3 billions of dollars, a margin of 44.7 %. Unheard of since the creation of the company, in 1978 in Marseille, where it alternated medium-sized periods and years of lean cows, even bordering on bankruptcy in 2009. At the beginning of 2020, uncertain on the benefits of COVVI -19, CMA CGM had taken out a loan guaranteed by the State of 1 billion euros. Then the engorgement of ports and the lack of boats created tensions that exploded the cost of freight in the summer of 2020.

After thirty years spent in the house, his CEO knows that this situation is “exceptional”. “We will continue to develop in transport and logistics,” said Rodolphe Saadé in a press release. He says he tackles 2023 “with confidence”, even if the economic context has changed.

The end of 2022 was marked by a clear slowdown in world exchanges, and therefore a drop in freight rates practiced by shipowners. They had reached peaks at the end of 2021-start 2022, at around $ 15,000 on average to send a 40-foot container between Shanghai (China) and Rotterdam (Netherlands), ten times the usual rate.

Logistics, an essential complement to maritime freight

These profits allowed him to greatly reduce his debt, to order sixty ships with liquefied natural gas and, more recently, methanol (deliverables by the end of 2026), to take control of port terminals in New York-New Jersey and India, after a heavy investment in the Californian port of Los Angeles. But also to strengthen in logistics, a complement essential to maritime freight.

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/Media reports cited above.