Jardine Matheson Holdings

Jardine Matheson Holdings
Jardine Matheson
Type Public
Industry Conglomerate
Founded 1832
Headquarters Hong Kong
Key people Sir Henry Keswick, Chairman
Anthony Nightingale, Managing Director
Mark Greenberg, Group Strategy Director
Products Retail
Real Estate
Financial Services
Shipping and Aviation
Engineering and Construction
Automobile Manufacture and Distribution
Revenue US$46.9 billion (2010)
Website jardines.com
Jardine Matheson Holdings
Chinese 怡和控股有限公司

Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited (SGX: J36, LSEJAR) often referred to as Jardines, is a multinational corporation incorporated in Bermuda and based in Hong Kong. While listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Singapore Exchange, the vast majority of Jardines shares are traded in Singapore.[1][2] One of the original Hong Kong trading houses or Hongs, as of December 2010, 41% of the company's profits were still earned in China.[3]

With roots that can be traced back to the opium trade, today, Jardines is a Fortune 500 company[4] that consists of Jardine Pacific, Jardine Motors Group, Jardine Strategic, Dairy Farm, Hongkong Land, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Jardine Cycle & Carriage and Astra International.[5][6][7] It also owns 30.3% of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group and has a minority investment in Rothschilds Continuation Holdings, the merchant banking house.[3]


The early days

William Jardine and James Matheson, the firm's founders
1846 view of Jardine's original building from Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.

The firm of Jardine, Matheson and Co. began in Canton, China on 1 July 1832 by Scottish doctor William Jardine and Edinburgh University graduate James Matheson.[8] With the cessation of Hong Kong under the 1842 Treaty of Nanking, the firm set up its headquarters on the island and grew rapidly. Initially trading in opium, tea and cotton, Jardines soon diversified into other areas including insurance, shipping and railways. By the turn of the 19th century, the company had become the largest of the ‘’hongs’’ or foreign trading conglomerates with offices in all the important Chinese cities as well as Yokohama, Japan.[9][10]

In the early decades of the 20th century, Jardines built cotton mills, a press packing plant and a brewery in Shanghai while expanding into Africa, America and Australia. When war came to China in 1937, the firm suffered heavily both in Hong Kong and in mainland China.

After the 1949 foundation of the People’s Republic of China, trading conditions for foreign companies under the new Communist regime became increasingly difficult. As a result, by 1954, As Time magazine reported:

So ended trading in China of the firm with the biggest British investment east of Suez.[11]

Post Second World war restructuring and expansion

After the firm's flotation in 1961,[12] the landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel opened in Hong Kong in 1963 as the city's first five star hotel.

In 1970, Jardine Fleming, the first merchant bank in Asia, opened for business while a real estate company and sugar plantations in Hawaii and the Philippines were acquired. A Hong Kong building boom in the mid 1970's saw Jardine's buy Gammon Construction, the largest construction and civil engineering group on the island.[13] A presence was re-established on the mainland in 1979 following China's reform and opening up and a year later the firm established the Beijing Air Catering Company Ltd., the foreign joint venture in the country.[14] During the 1970s Jardines also expanded their insurance interests with acquisitions in the United Kingdom and the United States laying the groundwork for the foundation of Jardine Insurance Brokers.[15]

By 1980 the firm had operations in southern Africa, Australia, China, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, as well as the United States, and employed 37,000 people.[12] After redomiciling to Bermuda in 1984 ahead of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong, in 1990 Jardine Matheson Holdings and four other listed group companies arranged primary share listings on the London Stock Exchange in addition to their Hong Kong listings. Other significant developments during this decade included the merging of Jardine Insurance Brokers with Lloyd Thompson to form Jardine Lloyd Thompson, the acquisition of a 16% interest in Singapore blue-chip Cycle & Carriage and Dairy Farm’s purchase of a significant stake in Indonesia's leading supermarket group Hero. Mandarin Oriental also embarked on its strategy to double its available rooms and capitalize on its brand.

The first decade of the new millennium saw Jardine Cycle & Carriage acquire an initial 31% stake in Astra International, which has since been increased to just over 50% and a 20% shareholding in Rothschilds Continuation Holdings,[16] which rekindled a relationship that began in 1838.[17] Hongkong Land became a Group subsidiary for the first time following a multi-year programme of steady open market purchases while Jardine Pacific raised its interest in Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited from 25% to 42%.

Current operations

Jardine's Headquarters (Jardine House)

Jardines today comprises a group of companies with extensive operations across Asia, and through some of its businesses, the world. The firm’s business interests include Jardine Pacific, Jardine Motors, Hongkong Land, Dairy Farm, Mandarin Oriental, Jardine Cycle & Carriage, through which its interest in Astra is held, and Jardine Lloyd Thompson. The Group also has strategic interests in other entities, among them a 20% stake in global financial adviser, Rothschilds Continuation Holdings.

Jardine Pacific

Jardine Pacific is a holding company which represents a significant number of the Group’s non-listed interests in Asia, principally in engineering and construction, transport services, restaurants and IT services. These include a number of Jardines’ long-standing businesses such as Jardine Engineering Corporation (JEC), Jardine Shipping Services, Jardine Aviation Services, Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals, Jardine Schindler and Gammon Construction as well as more contemporary interests that reflect the demands of Asian consumers; among them Pizza Hut restaurants in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam and Jardine OneSolution IT services.[18]

Jardine Motors

Jardine Motors is active in the sales and service of motor vehicles in Hong Kong, mainland China and the United Kingdom.[19] Subsidiary Zung Fu, which has held the Mercedes-Benz franchise in Hong Kong for over 50 years, has achieved one of the highest market penetrations in the world for the luxury brand and ranks among its top international performers. The group also represents smart and Hyundai passenger cars in Hong Kong. Zung Fu is expanding its presence across the growing market of Southern China where it is actively developing a network of Mercedes-Benz dealerships.[20] In the United Kingdom, Jardine Motors is one of the country’s largest retail dealership groups with a portfolio of specialist franchises that includes Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, Porsche and, most recently, McLaren.

Hongkong Land

Hongkong Land is an Asian property investment, management and development group. Established in Hong Kong in 1889 by Sir Paul Chater and William Keswick, the group today has property interests across the region. In Hong Kong, the group owns and manages approximately 5,000,000 square feet (460,000 m2) of prime commercial space in the Central. In Singapore, it is helping to create the city’s new Central Business District with an expanding joint venture portfolio of new developments. In addition to commercial properties, Hongkong Land also develops residential properties in key cities around the region including Hong Kong, mainland China, Macau and Singapore where its subsidiary MCL Land is a significant property developer. Jardine Strategic has a 50% shareholding in Hongkong Land.

Dairy Farm

Dairy Farm traces its origins in Hong Kong back to the 19th century when it was involved in the production of dairy products and ice. Today the company is a leading pan-Asian retailer.[21] The Dairy Farm group’s retail operations range from supermarkets, hypermarkets and health and beauty stores to convenience and home furnishings stores, and operate under well-known local brands. It has a significant presence in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, and a growing presence in mainland China, India and Vietnam. Dairy Farm operates supermarkets under the banners of Wellcome, Jasons, Shop N Save, Cold Storage and Hero; Giant hypermarkets; health and beauty stores under Mannings and Guardian; IKEA furniture stores in Hong Kong and Taiwan; as well as 7-Eleven convenience stores. The group also has a 50% interest in Maxim’s, Hong Kong’s leading restaurant chain.[22] Jardine Strategic has a 78% shareholding in Dairy Farm.

Jardine Lloyd Thompson

Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) is a leading insurance and reinsurance broker, risk management adviser and employee benefits consultant.[23] Jardines has been in the insurance broking business since its earliest days in Canton and JLT, which is quoted on the London Stock Exchange, is one of the largest companies of its kind in the world. The company operates through two key business groups, Risk & Insurance and Employee Benefits. The risk & insurance group provides specialist insurance and reinsurance broking together with risk management services for a wide range of clients, including some of the world’s largest corporations. JLT, which has a significant presence in the Asia-Pacific region, operates through an international network of over 100 offices in 36 countries. The employee benefits group is one of the United Kingdom’s leading employee benefits providers.

Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is an international hotel investment and management company operating deluxe and first class hotels and residences in city and resort destinations around the world.[24] The group’s flagship hotel, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, has been recognized as one of the world’s leading hotels since shortly after its opening in 1963 along with the equally world-renowned Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, previously known as The Oriental.[25] Jardine Strategic has a 74% shareholding in Mandarin Oriental.

Jardine Cycle & Carriage

Jardine Cycle & Carriage (JC&C) is an established Singapore-listed company where, as Cycle & Carriage, it has had a presence since 1926.[26] JC&C has an interest of just over 50% in Astra, a listed Indonesian conglomerate[27] and the largest independent automotive group in Southeast Asia, as well as other motor interests in the region. Together with its subsidiaries and associates, Jardine Cycle & Carriage employs some 137,000 people across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Jardine Cycle & Carriage operates in Singapore and Malaysia under the Cycle & Carriage banner and the group represents some of the world’s best-known motoring marques including Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Honda and Kia. Jardine Strategic has a 70% shareholding in Jardine Cycle & Carriage.

Astra International

Astra is Southeast Asia’s largest independent automotive group. Operating predominantly in Indonesia, it is a provider of a full range of automobile and motorcycle products in partnerships with companies which include Toyota, Daihatsu, Isuzu, Nissan Diesel, Peugeot and BMW for automobiles, and Honda for motorcycles. Astra also has a strong presence in the automotive component sector through its subsidiary PT Astra Otoparts Tbk.[28] In addition, Astra has interests in financial services; heavy equipment, mining and energy; agribusiness; information technology; infrastructure and logistics. In financial services, Astra’s businesses provide financial products and services to support its automotive and heavy equipment sales. The group is also involved in retail banking through a stake in PT Bank Permata Tbk.

Corporate structure

The present Chairmain of Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd. is Henry Keswick, the company's Tai-pan from 1970 (aged 31) to 1975 and 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 group managing director of Jardine, Cycle & Carriage in Singapore and Adam Keswick, son of Sir Chips Keswick 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.

Current directors

As of June 2011, the directors of Jardine Matheson Holdings are:

  • Sir Henry Keswick, chairman
  • Anthony Nightingale, managing director
  • Mark Greenberg, group strategy director
  • Jenkin Hui
  • Adam Keswick, chief executive of Jardine Pacific and of Jardine Motors
  • Ben Keswick, group managing director of Jardine, Cycle & Carriage
  • Simon Keswick
  • Dr. Richard Lee
  • Lord Leach of Fairford
  • Y.K. Pang
  • James Riley
  • Percy Weatherall
  • Giles White

Company secretary: John C. Lang

Scottish leadership

Jardines is controlled by the Keswick family, who are direct descendants of William Jardine's sister Jean through the marriage of her daughter to Thomas Keswick, father of William Keswick, an early Tai-pan of the firm. 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 senior management levels composed of a mixture of British, Chinese, Indonesians, Europeans, Australians and Americans.

The Keswicks have maintained a relationship with another prominent Scottish family, the Flemings, of which the author Ian Fleming was also a member. 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.


  • Jardines' history was the inspiration for a series of novels written by James Clavell, including Tai-Pan, Gai-Jin, and Noble House. The Noble House TV miniseries actually used Jardine as the headquarters of Struan's & Co, the fictional company depicted in Clavell's novels. In Taipan, Dirk Struan is loosely based on William Jardine while Robb Struan is loosely based on James Matheson.[29][30]
  • Jardines installed the first elevator in China in the northern city of Tianjin.
  • Mail sent to Jardines requires no address—just the name is enough to ensure its delivery.
  • Jardines' have a strict policy of not buying/investing in new companies as it is said to be against William Jardine's wishes.
  • Several landmarks in present day Hong Kong are named after the firm and its founders. The name of Yee Wo Street in Hong Kong's East Point and Causeway Bay Districts comes from Jardine's Chinese name "Ewo" whilst other locations associated with the company include Jardine's Bazaar, Jardine's Crescent, Jardine's Bridge, Jardine's Lookout, Yee Wo Street, Matheson Street, Jardine House and the Noon-day Gun.


  1. ^ Businessweek: Jardine Matheson Holdings
  2. ^ Reuters: Jardine Matheson Holdings
  3. ^ a b "Jardine Group Profile". http://www.jardines.com/the-group/publications.html. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 
  4. ^ Fortune 500 list
  5. ^ Jardine Matheson Archive
  6. ^ Corporate Information: Jardine Matheson Holdings
  7. ^ Transnationale: Jardine Matheson Holdings
  8. ^ "Jardine Matheson Archive". University of Manchester. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/features/03021205.html. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Dong 2000, p. 6.
  10. ^ Jardine, Matheson & Co. 1947, p. 16.
  11. ^ Time CHINA: Road to Disillusion, 8 February 1954
  12. ^ a b "Jardine Matheson Archives". Archives Hub. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/features/03021205.html. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  13. ^ Jardine official site
  14. ^ "China’s first foreign joint venture: The Beijing Air Catering Co. Ltd. (中国首家中外合资企业:北京航空食品有限公司)" (in Chinese). 4 September 2009. http://www.usd-cny.com/news/finance/hongguan/82964.html. Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  15. ^ Jardines official site
  16. ^ Ian Griffiths (2005). "Sale of Rothschild stake secures bank's treasured independence". The Guardian. 
  17. ^ James Moore (23 June 2005). "Royal & Sun Alliance cuts its ties with the Rothschilds". The Daily Telegraph, UK. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/2917867/Royal-and-Sun-Alliance-cuts-its-ties-with-the-Rothschilds.html. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  18. ^ Jardine Pacific
  19. ^ Jardine Motors
  20. ^ Zeng Fu website
  21. ^ "The Dairy Farm Company Ltd – IKEA Division". Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. http://www.swedcham.com.hk/members/the-dairy-farm-company-ltd-ikea-division/. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  22. ^ Dairy Farm
  23. ^ Jardine Lloyd Thompson
  24. ^ Mandarin Oriental
  25. ^ "Story of a Classic". http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/up-in-the-old-hotel. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  26. ^ Jardine Cycle & Carriage
  27. ^ "Jardine Cycle & Carriage Ltd (JCYC.SI)". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/overview?symbol=JCYC.SI. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  28. ^ Astra International
  29. ^ "Book (1966): Tai-Pan, James Clavell", South China Morning Post (29 March 2009), p. 7.
  30. ^ Robyn Meredith, "Sailing From Old to New Asia; Jardine Matheson is ever more a play on its traditional region", Forbes Asia, Volume 4, Issue 15 (15 September 2008), p. 88.


  • Blake, Robert (1999). Jardine Matheson - Traders of the Far East. London: Weidenfield & Nicholson. ISBN 0297825011. 
  • Chang, Hsin-pao (1964). Commissioner Lin and the Opium War. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 
  • Cheong, W.E. (1997). The Hong merchants of Canton: Chinese merchants in Sino-Western trade. Routledge. ISBN 0700703616.  Online version at Google books
  • Crush, Peter (Hong Kong 1999). Woosung Road – the story of China’s First Railway. ISBN 962-85532-1-6. 
  • Dong, Stella (2000). Shanghai:The Rise and Fall of a Decadent City. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-6888-15798. 
  • Earnshaw, Graham (2008). Tales of Old Shanghai. Hong Kong: Earnshaw Books. ISBN 978-988-17621-1-5. 
  • Farooqui, Amar (2005). Smuggling as Subversion: Colonialism, Indian Merchants, and the Politics of Opium, 1790-1843. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-0886-4. 
  • Greenberg, Michael (2000). Tuck, Patrick J.N.. ed. British Trade and the Opening of China, 1800–1842. 9. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415189985. 
  • Hunt, Janin (1999). The India-China opium trade in the nineteenth century. McFarland & Company. ISBN 9780786407156.  Online version at Google Books
  • Jardine, Matheson & Co. (1947). Jardines & the EWO Interests. New York: Charles Phelps. 
  • Keswick, Maggie; Weatherall, Clara (2008). The thistle and the jade:a celebration of 175 years of Jardine Matheson. Francis Lincoln Publishing. ISBN 9780711228306.  Online version at Google books
  • Lampton, David M.; Ji, Zhaojin (2002). A History of Modern Shanghai Banking: The Rise and Decline of China's Finance Capitalism. ISBN 0765610035.  Online version at Google Books
  • LeFevour, Edward (1974). Western Enterprise in Late Ch'ing China: A Selective Survey of Jardine, Matheson & Company's Operations, 1842–1895 in Harvard East Asian Monographs 26. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0674950108. 
  • Matheson Connell, Carol (2004). A Business in Risk – Jardine Matheson and the Hong Kong Trading Industry. Praeger. ISBN 978-0-27598-035-1.  Online version at Google books
  • Meyer, David R. (2000). Hong Kong as a Global Metropolis. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521643443.  Online version at Google Books
  • Ngo, Tak-Wing, ed (2002). Hong Kong's History: State and Society Under Colonial Rule. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-20305-0.  Online version at Google Books
  • Ruthven, John Luke (2008). van Dijk, Ruud. ed. Encyclopedia of the Cold War, Volume 1. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-97515-5. 
  • Tamura, Eileen (1997). China: Understanding its past. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-1923-1.  Online version at Google Books
  • Tsang, Steve (2007). A Modern History of Hong Kong. I. B. Taurus & Company. ISBN 9781845114190.  Online version at Google Books
  • Wakeman Jnr., Frederic (London 1992). The Canton Trade and the Opium War in John K. Fairbank, The Cambridge History of China, vol. 10, part 1. ISBN 0521214475. 
  • Ward Fay, Peter (1976). The Opium War, 1840-1842: Barbarians in the Celestial Kingdom in the Early Part of the Nineteenth Century and the War by Which They Forced Her Gates Ajar. New York: Norton. ISBN 0807847143. 

Further reading

  • Alain Le Pichon, China Trade and Empire : Jardine, Matheson & Co. And the Origins of British Rule in Hong Kong, 1827-1843 (Oxford ; New York: Published for The British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2006).

External links

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