The family office of the billionaires equips the team after the stroke of luck Ship’s crew

By Tara Patel

(Bloomberg) – The family office of the billionaire shipping company clan Saade is reorganizing top management as it struggles with the pandemic.

Michel Sirat, 62, a former chief financial officer at CMA CGM, the container shipping line controlled by the Saades, has recently taken over as head of Merit France, the company that manages the family fortune.

Joseph Dakkak, who previously helped run the family office, has resigned, according to a filing this week. He is expected to stay with the transport company and head a regional office outside of Lebanon, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified when discussing personnel issues.

A CMA CGM spokesman declined to comment opinion in December about Sirat stepping down from his role as CFO.

The Saades’ empire has undergone a transformation after a period of unprecedented growth at the tightly controlled CMA CGM, where Rodolphe Saade is the chairman of the board. Shipping companies benefited from record transport rates during the pandemic, sending billions in dividends to their owners.

While the industry has since slumped, CMA CGM has weathered the pandemic with far more diverse offerings, including expanding air freight through an investment in Air France KLM and bolstering its logistics capabilities. The company recently acquired the logistics division of Bollore SE – a record deal valued at €5 billion ($5.5 billion). Rodolphe Saade is also building up media assets.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the Saade family is worth approximately $21.6 billion. The heirs – including Rodolphe (53), sister Tanya (55) and brother Jacques (51) – own 73% of CMA CGM held by Merit.

In addition to leading Merit, Sirat also oversees M&A and strategy for CMA CGM. He was succeeded as CFO by Ramon Fernandez, who previously held the same role at French telecom operator Orange SA.

Dakkak was a first lieutenant to the late founder Jacques Saade, who hired him to run Merit in 2015 when the company was still based in Lebanon.

Saade emigrated to Marseille with his family and founded the shipping company in 1978 with a leased ship. Merit’s headquarters were relocated to France around 2021 following pressure from the French government and as part of a tax investigation by that country’s authorities.

© 2023 Bloomberg LP

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