Suez Canal Company
|Fate||Merger with Lyonnaise des Eaux to form Suez S.A. (1997)|
|Successor||GDF Suez (2008)|
|Ferdinand de Lesseps - founder|
The Universal Maritime Suez Canal Company (French: Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez, or simply Compagnie de Suez for short) was the corporation that constructed the Suez Canal between 1859 and 1869 and operated it until 1956. It was formed by Ferdinand de Lesseps in 1858, and it owned and operated the canal for many years thereafter. Initially, French private investors were the majority of the shareholders, with Egypt also having a significant stake.
When Isma'il Pasha became Wāli of Egypt and Sudan in 1863, he refused to adhere to the concessions to the Canal company made by his predecessor Said. The problem was referred during 1864 to the arbitration of Napoleon III, who awarded £3,800,000 to the company as compensation for the losses they would incur by the changes to the original grant which Ismail demanded. During 1875, a financial crisis forced Isma'il to sell his shares to the British Government for only £3,976,582.
The company operated the canal until its nationalization by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956, which led to the Suez Crisis. In 1962, Egypt made its final payments for the canal to the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company and took full control of the Suez Canal.
In 1938, Benito Mussolini demanded that Italy have a sphere of influence in the Suez Canal, specifically demanding that an Italian representative be placed on the company's board of directors. Italy opposed the French monopoly over the Suez Canal because under French domination of the company all Italian merchant traffic to its colony of Italian East Africa was forced to pay tolls upon entering the canal.
On 26 July 1956, the Egyptian government announced it intended to nationalize the Suez Company, owned by the French and the British, and also closed the canal to all Israeli shipping. This resulted in the Suez Crisis.
Presidents of the Suez Canal Company (1855-1956)
- Ferdinand De Lesseps, (1855 – 7 December 1894)
- Jules Guichard (17 December 1892 – 17 July 1896) (acting for de Lesseps to 7 December 1894)
- Auguste-Louis-Albéric, prince d'Arenberg (3 August 1896 – 1913)
- Charles Jonnart (19 May 1913 – 1927)
- Louis de Vogüé (4 April 1927 – 1 March 1948)
- François Charles-Roux (4 April 1948 – 26 July 1956)
Administrator of the Suez Canal Company
- http://members.fortunecity.com/78blencowest/ch12.htm#cabinet Archived 2009-05-28 at the Wayback Machine.
- Suez Canal Connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea
- Patel, Tara (22 July 2008). "GDF Suez Shares Fall in Debut Following Merger". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- "French Army breaks a one-day strike and stands on guard against a land-hungry Italy", LIFE, 19 Dec 1938. Pp. 23.
- Revue d'Auvergne, Volume 5, pg152
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