Nicolas Sartini steps down as Ceva chief exec after less than one year

French shipping line CMA CGM now launches the second stage of the restructuring of its acquisition Ceva Logistics, and this also means the company replaces Ceva CEO Nicolas Sartini.
Photo: PR / Ceva Logistics
Photo: PR / Ceva Logistics

Less than one year has passed since French shipping line CMA CGM took full ownership of Ceva Logistics, and the company now changes Ceva's CEO for the second time.

This means that Ceva's chief executive officer going forward will be Mathieu Friedberg, while Nicolas Sartini steps down and leaves the logistics company after serving less than one year as CEO.

He was brought in back in June to head Ceva Logistics from one of the company's other subsidiaries, Singapore-based container line APL.

Since the acquisition of Ceva Logistics, the shipping group has been working on a comprehensive overhaul aimed at making Ceva profitable. And this process has now lead to the change in CEO, says CMA CGM in a press release.

The French company says that the first stage is completed, while the second stage will require new leadership,

"I would like to thank Nicolas Sartini for having successfully accompanied the first phase of Ceva's transformation. Thanks to his recognized expertise and leadership and to his strengthened team, Mathieu Friedberg will successfully complete the second phase of the strategic plan," says Rodolphe Saadé, chairman and CEO of the CMA CGM group, in the press release.

Several new executives

The new CEO, Friedberg, has also been found internally at the group, where he most recently served as senior VP for Commercial and Agency Network. Before this, he served as chief executive officer for Delmas and CMA CGM Logistics, which represented the group's logistics activities prior to the acquisition of Ceva.

The second stage of the restructuring also results in a series of other appointments aimed at helping to strengthen the organization, says the company in the press release.

Guillaume Col becomes new COO, coming from a position at Kuehne + Nagel, where he served as general manager for France and North Africa.

Michel Foulon has been appointed as new CIO, and he has previously served in a similar position for the CMA CGM group overall.

Frédéric Obala will serve in a new position as director of transformation and digital, while Gaultier de La Rochebrochard becomes new general counsel.

Expects profit by 2023 at the earliest

CMA CGM acquired Ceva Logistics with a plan to bet more on providing complete freight solutions for customers, but the investment has not been trouble-free for the French shipping major.

The acquisition for the Swiss-based freight forwarder for USD 1.7 billion cut deep into the group's finances and has on several occasions been described as a financial burden.

In the latest interim report, from November, the shipping group informed that Ceva Logistics accounts for USD 1.2 billion of the company's combined debt, which at the end of 2018 stood at USD 7.7 billion.

The second stage of the restructuring is part of the turnaround aimed at bringing Ceva Logistics back on track. In relation to the latest interim report, however, CMA CGM made it clear that this process could take longer than initially expected.

At the time, the French group said that it will likely be 2023-2024 before the company starts to reap direct financial gains from the acquisition. This is "due to the challenging environment in certain industrial sectors," said CMA CGM in the interim report.

English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

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