Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited ( , ) often called Jardines or Jardine's (怡和), is a multinational corporation that is incorporated in Bermuda. While listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Singapore Exchange, the vast majority of Jardines shares are traded in Singapore.
Currently Jardines consists of the following companies: Jardine Pacific, Jardine Motors Group, Jardine Strategic, Dairy Farm, Hongkong Land, Mandarin Oriental, Jardine Cycle & Carriage and Astra International.
It also owns 30.3% of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group.
In Canton, Dr. Jardine met a naturalised Briton of Huguenot extraction named Hollingworth Magniac and learned that there were ways by which, to a small extent, the monopoly of the East India Company could be circumvented. In 1817, Jardine left his first employers and began the struggle towards establishing his own private firm.
In the meantime, James Matheson was in his uncle's business in Calcutta. His uncle one day entrusted him with a letter to be delivered to the captain of a British vessel which was on the point of departure. James forgot to deliver the letter, and the vessel sailed. His uncle was incensed at this negligence, and it was suggested that young James had better go home. He took his uncle at his word and went to engage a passage to England. "Why not try Canton instead?" an old skipper advised him.
James Matheson did try Canton. And it was there, in 1818, that he met Jardine. The two men formed a partnership which included also Hollingworth Magniac and Beale, an English inventor of clocks and automata. At first they dealt only with Bombay and Calcutta, the so-called "country trade," but later they extended their business to London.
The activities of these four men made an important contribution towards bringing to an end, in 1834, the monopoly of the East India Company in China.
Nevertheless, open competition with the East India Company was risky business. The Company was empowered to punish transgressors vigorously--even to the extent of hanging. Occasionally, free traders did manage to secure a license from the Company to engage in the "country trade," usually with India, but never with Britain. In rare instances, other free traders, called "interlopers," competed with the Company. The interlopers usually were friends of the Government in England from which they had been able to obtain some form of charter of their own. Sooner or later, however, the East India Company always managed to have these other charters revoked.
There was one method, however, by which a Briton could establish a business on the East India Company's preserves. He could accept the consulship of a foreign country and register under its laws. This method was employed by Jardine to establish himself in Canton. Magniac had obtained an appointment from the King of Prussia, and later James Matheson represented Denmark and Hawaii. On this basis the partners had nothing to fear from the Company; in fact, relations between these two and the East India Company seemed in time to have become amicable. It is recorded that when ships of the East India Company were detained outside the harbour by the authorities, Jardine offered his services "without fee or reward." These services saved the East India Company a considerable sum of money and earned for Jardine the Company's gratitude.
By 1830, the enemies of the East India Company had begun to triumph, and its hold on trade with the East had weakened noticeably. Furthermore, at this time, both Magniac and Beale were getting ready to retire. In 1832, two years before the East India Company finally was dissolved, William Jardine and James Matheson entered into formal partnership as a private firm, Jardine, Matheson & Co.
Jardines became so well established they commanded an enviable portion of the China trade. Raw and manufactured goods were imported from India and the United Kingdom. Teas and silks were exported.
In 1842, the firm built the first substantial house and established their head office on the recently acquired island of Hong Kong. This began an era of increased prosperity and expansion. New offices soon were opened in the trading centres of Shanghai, Fuzhou, and Tianjin. Since then Jardines have never ceased to expand.
William Keswick, the young nephew of Dr. Jardine, was sent to Japan in 1858 to open up trading for the firm. He established an office in Yokohama. In Japan, Jardines also expanded rapidly and additional offices were opened -- in Kobe, Nagasaki, and other ports. From the beginning, a large and profitable business was conducted in imports, exports, shipping, and insurance.
By the end of the nineteenth century, business in the Far East no longer was confined to simple trading. Industrial expansion had begun. In its wake, the Indo-China Steam Navigation Company had been formed. To aid further in this development, Jardines had created insurance companies. They built cotton mills. Great wharves and warehouses were set up. Cold storage and press packing plants for China's widening export trade were erected. A more recent example of enterprise was the building of Ewo Brewery in 1935. The directors of Jardines have built a great modern business structure on the foundation so solidly laid by the pioneers of the firm.
Immediately on cessation of hostilities, the staff from these offices and from internment camps in China were first in the field recovering the firm's properties from the Japanese forces.
In the summer of 1947, as soon as the authorities permitted, Jardines re-entered Japan. From that date, the task of re-establishing their former wide interests in that country has been under way.
In Taiwan Jardines have maintained offices since early in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Today the Taipei office not only is the leading tea exporter to Europe, Asia, and America, but also is engaged in shipping and in general export and import business.
While the leadership of Jardines is Scottish, the firm is international in its dealings. The staff of Jardines (239,000 employees as of January 2007) is predominantly Asian, with the senior levels being a mixture of British, Chinese, Indonesian, European, Australian and American.
The Keswicks have maintained a relationship with another prominent Scottish family, the Flemings. From 1970 until 1998, Jardine Matheson operated a pan-Asian investment banking joint venture, Jardine Fleming, with Robert Fleming & Co., a London merchant bank controlled by the Fleming family. In 2000, Jardine Fleming and Robert Fleming & Co. were sold to JP Morgan Chase.
It was the practice of Jardines to possess the fastest and best-handled ships that money could buy. The firm did this in order that its leading position could not be assailed. In the early days, it was often possible to make a fortune with the exclusive possession of market or budget news for a period even so brief as a few hours. Conversely, a fortune could be lost if the despatches from home were late. The keen competition for faster and more efficient shipping helped immeasurably in the rapid development of trade with the Far East. It was due largely, to the excellence of the fleet that Jardines outlived all rivals. In the days of the sailing ships, many of the most famous clippers were those of the Company's fleet. Among these were illustrious names such as "Red Rover", "Falcon", and "Sylph". The last-named clipper made a sailing record that was never beaten. It sailed from Calcutta to Lintin in the Pearl River estuary in seventeen days, seventeen hours.
The first merchant steamer in China, the Jardine, was built to order for the firm in 1835. She was a small vessel intended for use as a mail and passenger carrier between Lintin Island, Macau, and Whampoa. However, after several trips, the Chinese authorities, for reasons best known to themselves, prohibited her entrance into the river. She perforce had to be sent to Singapore.
The first steam ships owned by Jardines ran chiefly between Calcutta and the Chinese ports. They were fast enough so that they could make the 1,400-mile trip in two days less than the P. & O. vessels.
As time passed, more and more ships were procured for Jardines' fleet. The ports of call extended as conditions allowed. The firm was among the first to send ships to Japan, and at an early date established a regular service between Yokohama, Kobe, and China's ports.
Until 1881, the India and China coastal and river services were operated by several companies. In that year, however, these were merged into the Indo-China Steam Navigation Company, Ltd., a public company under the management of Jardines. The activities of this company extended from India to Japan, including the Straits Settlements, Borneo, and, of course, the China coast. In the latter sphere, the "Indo-China" developed rapidly. The company pushed inland up the Yangtsze River on which a specially designed fleet was built to meet all requirements of the river trade. For many years, this fleet gave unequalled service.
Jardines established an enviable reputation for the efficient handling of shipping. As a result, the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company invited the firm to attend to the Agency of their Shire Line which operated in the Far East. This occurred shortly before the first World War and necessitated a further expansion of the firm's shipping organisation. Today, no less than fifteen internationally known British, Canadian, and United States shipping companies entrust their agencies to this organisation.
In China, the bulk of freight emanates from domestic sources. On account of this an efficient and well-connected Chinese staff is maintained at all Jardines' branches. These branches are continuously in touch with the special features and tendencies of the Chinese markets.
With the disappearance of Japanese competition as a result of the war, and with the resurrection of China's merchant navy, shipping conditions in the Far East have changed vastly. The business demands an extreme degree of flexibility in the operation of foreign shipping. Jardines possess a rich fund of experience which was gained in the pioneering years of the last century and which extends through two world wars to the uncertainties of the present day. Jardines' shipping organisation offers unequalled service to shipowners, not only in the great ports of Hong Kong and Shanghai, but at every major coast port in China and also in Japan. In addition, since World War II, the firm has been operating the Australia-China Line, an enterprise owned jointly with Commons Bros., Ltd., of Newcastle. This line runs from Australia to Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Jardines are leaders also in Sino-foreign shipping co-operation.
At the property known as Kowloon Point, ten ocean-going vessels of up to thirty-two feet draught can be berthed regardless of the state of the tide. At the West Point property on Hongkong Island itself, one coastal vessel can be accommodated.
Kowloon Point provides storage space for about 750,000 tons of cargo. The transit sheds have been designed specially to provide maximum light and sorting space. The godowns are six-storeyed, of reinforced concrete, and are fully equipped with cargo lifts and cranes. A treasury, or strong room, capable of storing up to 500 measurement tons of bullion or other valuable cargo, is a part of the facilities offered.
The company also operates a launch and lighter fleet for the discharge of vessels at buoys and for general transshipment work.
The Company owns some 3,000 feet of the most valuable wharf frontage on the Shanghai side of the river. On the opposite, or Pudong (Pootung), side their frontage extends to 2,550. The wharves are capable of accommodating ten large ocean-going vessels at a time.
Before the Pacific War, the Company possessed godown, or warehouse, space of 2,505,000 square feet. Unfortunately there was considerable destruction by the Japanese. Rehabilitation progressed rapidly, however, and the standard of efficient working for which the company is well known has been re-established.
The firm has formed in Hong Kong an Air Maintenance Company which will bring the most up-to-date technical and maintenance facilities to the many air lines operating from and through Hong Kong.
The British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) appointed Jardines as their general agents for Hong Kong and China.
Please see Wikipedia entry for Hong Kong Airways for more contemporary information on Jardine Airways
During the past quarter century, export trade in eggs and egg products has become an increasingly important factor in China's economy. Immediately prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War, egg trading was high in the list of leading exports. During the war, the Japanese occupation forces gravely diminished the stock of poultry. However, this handicap was quickly overcome, for poultry production in China was never confined to large centres, difficult to reconstruct; instead it is chiefly in innumerable small units scattered over vast areas.
The plant is advantageously situated near the mouth of the well-known Soochow Creek. Whether the merchandise is destined for inland, the coast, or abroad, this location provides economical and ready access to the transporting vessels lying in the harbour of Shanghai.
The brewery produces Pilsner and Munich types of beers, both being suitable to Far Eastern climatic conditions: The brewery is recognised as the finest and most up-to-date in the Far East, where the popularity of its brews is unrivalled.
From picturesque old Fuzhou and the beautiful island of Taiwan, as well as from the godowns on the Shanghai Bund, ocean steamers once again are carrying valuable cargoes of Jardines' teas. The chests of teas are labelled with Old World names such as Keemuns. Soochongs, Oolongs, Gunpowders, and Chun Meas, and are borne to the Mincing Lane and the tea-cups of Europe, Africa, and America.
Silk inspectors are highly specialised skilled technicians. Usually, they are of Swiss or Italian descent. The Swiss who heads this Department of Jardines today is acknowledged to be the doyen of the silk men in China.
CHINA PRODUCE: The China Produce Department for many years has exported the raw materials of China everywhere abroad. To ensure the maintenance of Jardines' standards, large warehouses were constructed in Shanghai, Tientsin, Tsingtao, Hankow, and Hongkong, all of these cities being the trading centres for vast producing areas. The interests of the Department, accordingly, cover the products of the cold north, such as wool, furs, soya beans, oils, and oilseeds and bristles; the produce of the vast agricultural centre, which includes tung and other vegetable oils and oilseeds, egg products, bristles, and beans; and also the marketable yield of the sunny south, its tung oil, aniseed, cassia, and ginger. And these are only a few of the commodities which pass through Jardines from China to the markets of the world. Knowledge of individual processing and marketing requirements of these articles takes many years to acquire. Jardines' vast experience in these lines extends throughout the entire period of China's trading relations with the outside world.
IMPORTS: The main centres of Jardines' extensive and well-known import business are Hongkong and Shanghai, but the Department is fully represented in all of the firm's branches. In the early days, the principal interest was piece goods, but expansion in many and varied directions has developed as China more and more showed desire to share in the goods manufactured and produced by countries far from her shores.
The range of commodities handled by this Department is amazingly wide. It runs the gamut from timber to foodstuffs, from textiles to medicines, from metals to fertilizers, and from wines and spirits to the cosmetic requirements of a lady's boudoir.
The Import Departments in recent years formed a section for the export of Chinese articles manufactured from silks and linens. This has developed into an increasing business, with an ever-broadening scope of articles of all descriptions.
Despite all obstacles of terrain and climate, in spite of opposition from many of the Canton merchants, this outpost was developed with almost incredible rapidity. Today, on the northern slopes of the island, close-packed roofs of the city blot out the natural landscape. The harbour, world-famous for its beauty, presents a scene of bustling activity, vessels from the earth's four corners come and go, small steamers sail to and from Canton, and ferryboats hurry back and forth from the mainland. The island has become a great port and trading centre in the Far East--Hongkong.
James Matheson had long believed in the future of Hongkong. His enthusiasm was not shared by many of his fellow merchants. Understandably, they preferred not to abandon their comfortable residences on Canton's Praya Grande for the bleak slopes of Hongkong Island. Bad luck made matters worse for the early builders of Victoria. In quick succession, two typhoons and two fires flattened the new settlement. An epidemic of virulent malaria almost succeeded in returning the island to the oblivion from which it had risen. For years, the Canton Press in Macau never lost an opportunity to ridicule and slander the venture. Even Queen Victoria was unimpressed with her new acquisition. Once she wrote in gentle sarcasm to the King of the Belgians:"--Albert is so much amused at my having got the island of Hongkong, and we think Victoria ought to be called Princess of Hongkong as well as Princess Royal." Nevertheless, the founders refused to be discouraged.
On 14 June 1841, the first lots were sold on Hongkong. At the instigation of James Matheson, three of these lots, comprising 57,150 square feet, were purchased for the sum of Pounds 565, and Jardines set up one of the first offices to be established in the new colony. Lot No 1 is presently the site of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (owned by Jardines) and is still referred to in the company as No.1. In the beginning, the settlement consisted of hastily constructed mat sheds and wooden buildings. Jardines built the first house of consequence. It was erected at East Point, and the firm still retains most of the original property. Among the buildings that can be seen there today is one of the old warehouses with the date 1843 engraved in the stone above the door.
Throughout the history of Hongkong, Jardines have played a large part in all the affairs of the colony. In June, 1850, David Jardine was one of the first two unofficial members of the Legislative Council. Hongkong is the head office of the Company, and, on many occasions, the managing directors have been members of both the legislative and executive councils of the government. The firm has been closely connected with every phase of Hongkong's development. Many of the essential services that are operating at present owe their inception to the firm. The Indo-China Steam Navigation Co., Ltd., has its head office in Hongkong. The chairmanship of the boards of directors of the Hongkong Land Investment Co., Ltd., the Hongkong & Kowloon Wharf & Godown Co., Ltd., the Star Ferry Co., Ltd., and the Hong Kong Tramways, Ltd., has always been held by the managing director of Jardines in Hongkong. It is worth noting that Jardines, although they control these companies, hold majority stock in none of them. The company's power is derived from many special voting shares issued upon the formation of these companies.
There are numerous landmarks which denote the part that has been played by the seniors of the firm in the history of this thriving community. In the early days, fevers and plagues were a constant menace to the dwellers in Hongkong, and, the heat during the summer months was difficult to bear. The directors of the firm were pioneers in building residences on The Peak where living is more pleasant and healthful.
"Jardines' Corner" is well known to the inhabitants of Hong Kong, but chief among the place names associated with the firm is a hill top known as "Jardine's Lookout." It was from here, in the days of the sailing ships, that a watch was kept for the first glimpse of the sails of the firm's clippers coming from India and London. As soon as a vessel was signalled, a fast whaleboat was sent out to collect Jardines' mails. The correspondence was rushed back to the office so that the directors could have the first possible information on the world's markets.
The same speed, efficiency, and enterprise of those early days still persist, and are responsible for the solid foundation on which Jardines now stand. Thus, the firm's position as the leading foreign commercial enterprise in China remains unchallenged.
In the United States of America the correspondents are Balfour, Guthrie & Co., Ltd., New York. This is a firm of the highest standing, the centre of a network of world-wide trading and manufacturing interests.
Throughout the world, in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe, there are correspondents. In Calcutta, the sister firm Jardine, Henderson, Ltd. (which for many years was styled Jardine, Skinner & Co.), still maintains the closest links. These links reach back to the early days when Jardine and Matheson and the other pioneers were trading between Canton, Hong Kong, and India.
It went through several major internal changes throughout the 19th and 20th century, in 1947 a Trust was formed by members of the family to permit the management of the company to participate in the financial growth of the company. Jardine, Matheson and Co. offered its shares to the public in 1961 under the tenure of taipan Sir Hugh Barton and was oversubscribed 56 times. The Keswick family, in consortium with several London-based banks and financial institutions, bought out the controlling shares of the Buchanan-Jardine family in 1959 but subsequently sold most of the shares during the 1961 public offering, retaining only about 10% of the company.
The company redomiciled to Bermuda in 1984 under the tenure of taipan Simon Keswick so as to maintain its governance under a familiar British-based legal system. In the late 1980s, the corporate structure of the Jardine, Matheson Group, including all its allied companies, were restructured. The firm delisted from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (Hang Seng Index) in 1994 under the tenure of Alasdair Morrison and placed its primary listing in London. Officials in the People's Republic of China (PRC) regarded the delisting as a rebuke to the future of Hong Kong and the government of PRC. This caused trouble when Jardine Matheson attempted to participate in the Container Terminal 9.
The present Chairmain of Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd. is Henry Keswick, the company's tai-pan from 1970 (aged 31) to 1975 and was the 6th Keswick to be tai-pan of the company. His brother, Simon, was the company's tai-pan from 1983 to 1988 and is the 7th Keswick to be tai-pan. Both brothers are the 4th generation of Keswicks in the company. The 5th generation of Keswicks are also active within the organisation, Ben Keswick, son of Simon, is in charge of Jardine, Cycle & Carriage in Singapore and Adam Keswick, son of Chips, is in charge of Jardine Pacific and Jardine Motors Group in Hong Kong. The organizational structure of Jardines has changed almost totally, but the members of the family of Dr. William Jardine still have significant influence in the firm.