The Board of Directors of the CMA CGM Group, a world leader in shipping and logistics, met today under the chairmanship of Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, to review the financial statements for the first quarter of 2021.

Commenting on the results, Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group, said:

“At a time when global supply chains are under severe pressure, we have rallied together to provide our customers with additional solutions. We have expanded our fleet, most notably with the addition of new LNG-powered 23,000 TEU vessels. We have also created a new airfreight division with four Airbus A330-200 full-freighters, thereby strengthening our range of agile solutions.

In this context, the complementarity between our maritime transport offer and the logistics solutions offered by our subsidiary CEVA Logistics has proven particularly relevant.

Sustained demand for the transportation of consumer goods is expected to continue throughout the year. CMA CGM will continue to develop its solutions for its customers, while maintaining its initiatives in support of the energy transition of the transport and logistics industry.”

Strengthening and upgrading of the Group’s shipping and logistics assets

In order to support the growth of the transport market in the coming years and to offer a comprehensive range of logistical solutions, the Group continues to invest in strengthening and upgrading its shipping and logistics assets, namely through ordering new vessels as well as cargo aircraft to develop a new airfreight division.

Development of the airfreight offer

In order to offer its customers a comprehensive range of transport solutions, the CMA CGM Group has launched a dedicated airfreight division called CMA CGM AIR CARGO. The division, which counts four Airbus A330-200F cargo aircraft, each with a carrying capacity of 60 tonnes and a flight range of nearly 7,500 kilometers, began operations on March 13, 2021 with a first flight between Liège and Chicago, followed by the opening of routes to New York and Atlanta.

With the aim of meeting market demand for fast pick-up and reduced transit times, the Group is expanding the coverage of its airfreight division to new regions with the addition of three new destinations by this summer: Dubai, Beirut and Istanbul.

CMA CGM AIR CARGO completes the Group’s service offering by leveraging synergies between maritime transport and logistics.

A modern, upgraded container vessel fleet

In April 2021, the Group ordered 22 new vessels to be delivered between 2023 and 2024:

  • six 13,000-TEU vessels powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG);
  • six 15,000-TEU vessels powered by LNG;
  • ten 5,000-TEU vessels powered by very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO).

The Group also confirmed it would be deploying six new LNG-powered 15,000-TEU vessels between China and the U.S. West Coast by the end of 2022. The first vessel will join the Group’s fleet in October 2021.

The choice of liquefied natural gas, the best available solution for preserving air quality

By the end of 2024, the Group will operate a fleet of 44 LNG-powered vessels.

LNG is currently the best and most readily available solution for reducing shipping’s environmental footprint and preserving air quality, which is a major public health concern. It reduces sulfur oxide emissions by 99%, particulate matter emissions by 91%, and nitrogen oxide emissions by 92%, far exceeding current local and international regulations.

LNG also represents an initial response in the fight against global warming. This technology is one of the first steps towards achieving the objective of carbon neutrality that the CMA CGM Group has set itself for 2050.

The Group continues to make every effort to serve its customers under unprecedented circumstances

In the first quarter of 2021, the strong demand for transport of consumer goods observed in the second half of 2020 continued. Congestion in a number of ports and, more generally, strong pressure on global supply chains persisted. Against this unprecedented backdrop, the CMA CGM Group continues to adapt its services and operations to best meet its customers’ needs.

Boosting vessel capacities and increasing the container fleet

  • Increase in shipping capacity of more than 12.9% as compared to the first quarter of 2020 with the entry into service of additional vessels, particularly new LNG-powered 23,000-TEU vessels deployed between Asia and Northern Europe. The six 23,000-TEU vessels already delivered by March 31, 2021 will be joined by three additional vessels in 2021, further strengthening deployed capacities.
  • Boosting of the container fleet. Over the past year, the Group has increased its fleet by more than 330,000 TEUs, an increase of 8.1%.
  • Reorganization of services to limit the impact of congestion in certain ports.
  • Optimization of solutions offered to Group customers through complementary shipping, logistics and airfreight services.

The Group stands by its commitment to the energy transition in transport and logistics

Firmly committed to environmental protection and the energy transition in shipping and logistics, the CMA CGM Group is continuing its efforts to protect the environment.

In early April, it launched the first low-carbon biomethane-based shipping solution as part of its trajectory toward carbon neutrality by 2050. The Group is supporting the production of 12,000 tonnes of biomethane (equivalent to the consumption of two LNG-powered 1,400 TEU vessels for a year), a renewable green gas produced from, among other things, organic and plant waste from European farms and that is used at methane conversion plants. Along with the dual-fuel gas engine technology currently used in LNG vessels, the Guarantee-of-Origin biomethane solution reduces well-to-wake (i.e. whole life cycle) greenhouse gas emissions (including CO2 emissions) by 67%.

The Coalition for the Energy of the Future, initiated by Rodolphe Saadé, has presented seven initiatives, with initial results expected in 2021. The Coalition is made up of 14 international companies and aims to speed up the development of energy and technology for the future (green hydrogen, biofuels, liquefied biomethane…) to support new sustainable mobility solutions and thus reduce the environmental footprint of transport and logistics. By bringing together international companies from different industries, the Coalition covers the entire transport and logistics chain: energy, construction, digital technology, banking, ports, sea and airfreight, and distribution.

CMA CGM was the first maritime carrier in the world to successfully test a biofuel made from recycled vegetable oils and forest residues, which reduced CO2 emissions by 80% across the entire life cycle.

The Group is continuing its research and development activities, both within its own teams and with its industrial partners, in its quest to develop solutions that will eventually be part of the Group’s energy mix and lead to carbon neutrality.

The Group has also published its non-financial performance statement, which can be found in its 2020 Sustainable Development Report.

Operating and financial performance for the first quarter of 2021

First-quarter revenue stood at USD 10.7 billion, up 49.2% from the first quarter 2020, which was impacted by a slowdown in international trade due to lockdown measures, particularly in China.

EBITDA came in at USD 3.2 billion, representing an EBITDA margin of 29.7% (versus 13.5% in the first quarter of 2020).

Net income, Group share was USD 2.1 billion.

The Group continued to strengthen its financial structure, carrying out accelerated repayments in the amount of USD 1.7 billion of some of its loans, including the balance on the state-guaranteed syndicated loan contracted in May 2020. Net debt stood at USD 15.7 billion on March 31, 2021, down USD 1.2 billion from December 31, 2020.

In the first quarter of 2021, carried volumes were up 10.7% from first quarter 2020 to 5.5 million TEUs, reflecting the quarter’s strong business activity. Shipping revenue stood at USD 8.6 billion, an increase of 57.4% driven by strong growth in unit revenue per TEU.

EBITDA for shipping was USD 3.0 billion. EBITDA margin rose 34.6%, supported by average revenue per TEU of USD 1,574 and good cost control despite the congestion issues that generated additional operating costs.

The Group’s logistics business continued its upturn, in line with the trajectory outlined in the Group’s transformation plan.

Logistics revenue totaled USD 2.1 billion in the first quarter 2021, up 25%. EBITDA reached USD 172 million, a year-on-year increase of 25.5%. EBITDA margin held steady at 8%.


International trade still brisk

The sustained demand for the shipping of consumer goods seen since the summer of 2020 is expected to continue in the second half of 2021. The Group will continue to invest in strengthening and upgrading its shipping and logistics assets while bolstering its financial structure. As part of its commitment to customers around the world, the Group will continue to deploy solutions to support their business activity and ensure the continuity of their supply chains.

The current environment should allow the Group to achieve at least the same results in the second quarter of 2021, as it did in the first.

Source: Hellenic Shipping