The new board of directors of CMA CGM will meet for the first time on Jan. 18 to elect a chief executive to steer the troubled French ocean container carrier through a restructuring of its $5.6 billion of debt.
The nine member board, which was elected at an extraordinary shareholders meeting Dec. 23 as part of a deal with CMA CGM’s creditor banks, will officially appoint Philippe Soulie, head of Marseilles-based construction group Cnim, as chief executive.
Jacques Saadé, 72, who founded the family-owned company in 1978, will be appointed chairman of the board, a position that will remove him from day-to-day management of the world’s third largest ocean carrier.
CMA CGM agreed to loosen family control of the carrier in December to obtain an urgently needed $500 million credit line which will become available in mid-January.
The Marseilles-based company also has made provision to enlarge the board by three members to represent potential new investors which it has approached to inject between $300 million and $400 million of fresh capital.
CMA CGM, meanwhile, is continuing negotiations with its 63 creditor banks to restructure its $5.6 billion debt. It is also in talks with Asian shipyards over cancelling and delaying delivery of two thirds of the 45 container ships it has ordered.
The carrier, which lost $515 million on $4.8 billion in revenue in the first half of 2009, said it expects to return to profit in 2010.
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