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Bourbon (Shipping company, France)

Last modified: 2020-01-28 by ivan sache
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House flag of Bourbon - Image by Ivan Sache, 5 December 2019

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Presentation of Bourbon

Groupe Bourbon was established in 1948 in Reunion, as the merger of different family companies involved in sugar and rum business. To highlight its origin, the group adopted the name of the island during the Ancient Regime and the Restauration, Bourbon.
The group diversified its activities at the end of the 20th century, investing in industrial fishing, general merchandise retail and dairy products, and, starting in 1992, maritime operations.

The group acquired in 1996 Les Abeilles (towage and salvage) and Setaf Saget (tramp transport). Groupe Bourbon entered the Second Market of the Paris Exchange in 1998.
In 2002, Groupe Bourbon focused on maritime operations, taking over Havila Supply AS, renamed to Bourbon Offshore Norway. The next year, the company initiated deep-sea offshore operations in Brazil and, mostly, West Africa.

Groupe Bourbon was renamed to Bourbon in 2005, while its social seat was transferred from Rzunion to Paris. Then among the international leaders in maritime services, Bourbon was incorporated in 2006 to the SBF 120 index of the Paris Exchange.
Bourbon abandoned port towage in 2007 to invest in Inspection, Maintain and Repair services for off-shore oil fields, through the Bourbon Subsea Services division. Bourbon acquired in 2008 DNT Offshore, an Italian company specialized in submarine robotics. As part of the Bourbon 2015 Leadership plan, Bourbon ordered new vessels for an amount of 500 million euros. Jaccar Holdings became in 2014 the company's main shareholder as the result of a successful tender offer.

Renamed in 2016 to Bourbon Corporation (website, the company was reorganized in February 2018 as a holding composed of three separate branches: Bourbon Marine & Logistics, Bourbon Subsea Services, and Bourbon Mobility.
Bourbon now operates 483 vessels and hire more than 8,000 employees in 47 countries.

The decrease of invest and innovation experienced in the oil sector for the last five years caused the decline of Bourbon. On 7 August 2019, the Marseilles Court of Commerce placed Bourbon Corporation and Bourbon Maritime under administration, after the company had failed to pay its debts (2.7 billion euros) to different banks.
A consortium composed of four French banks and the Chinese group ICBC proposed to take over Bourbon, provided the patriarch Jacques de Chateauvieux (b. 1951), the group's main shareholder and board president since 1979, leaves the company's board.
[Les Échos, 10 October 2019]

Ivan Sache, 5 December 2019

House flag of Bourbon

The house flag of Bourbon (photo) is white with the company's emblem.

Ivan Sache, 5 December 2019

Groupe Bourbon


House flag of Groupe Bourbon - Image by Ivan Sache, 5 December 2019

The flag of Groupe Bourbon (photo) was white with the company's former emblem.

Dominique Cureau, 5 December 2019

Setaf Saget


House flag of Setaf Saget - Image by Ivan Sache, 31 August 2003

Setaf Saget, headquartered in Suresnes, was founded in 1968 and fully incorporated into Bourbon Maritime in 1996. The company is specialized in dry bulk transportation (coal, fertilizers, cement, ore, wood, grains). It owns handy-max bulk carriers tooled up with cranes and buckets.

The houseflag of Setaf Saget is quartered red-blue by a white cross.

Ivan Sache, 31 August 2003

Following the announcement by Bourbon in 2005 that a new identity encompassing all of its maritime activities had been adopted, I would imagine that the Setaf Saget flag is not longer used. However the ships still bear their old funnel markings and from recent photos I have discovered that the panel appearing thereon, which would logically be based on the flag, varies in two ways. Firstly the order of the colours is reversed which would make the hoist panels blue and the fly red and secondly there is a black outline of a squarish "S" overall extending to the edges at top and base but not at hoist and fly. This is not a design which would stand
out a distance and could thus have been easily missed on recording which seems likely with a funnel sighting I hold. Depending on the original source of the flag I therefore wonder whether it could have been similar.

Neale Rosanoski, 31 October 2006