date of creation


number of employees



Bourbon provides a range of marine services to the offshore oil and gas industry.



The history of the Bourbon Groupe can be traced back to its origins on Réunion Island, when several sugar cane producers merged to form Sucreries de Bourbon and to modernize their operations. The new company focused on its niche activity of producing sugar and rum for the French market. By the late 1970s, the company had evolved to become the country’s leading sugar. However it remained a very small player on the global sugar market.

Constrained by the European regulations, Bourbon turned to Jacques de Chateauvieux to lead it into a new corporate era. He began a restructuring drive that would result in the closure of six sugar refineries, and a focus on sugar production on only two European-grade plants. By the end of the 1980s, the company was still unable to compete effectively against its far larger competitors. For a new strategy, Bourbon began to diversify into other industries, which included fishing and retail supermarkets, including the production of dairy foods for sale in its retail network.

In the mid-1990s the company expanded its retail operations into Madagascar, Viet Nam and the Comoros Islands and Mauritius. By the end of the decade the company’s diversified activities overshadowed its original sugar refining operation and in 2001 the last of its original sugar refineries was sold.

Also in the mid-1990s, Bourbon became interested in a much different commercial activity: maritime services. After purchasing a majority stake in the French company Chambon in 1992, de Chateauavieux quickly recognized the potential for growth in this new market, and began to establish new commercial relationships with the oil and gas industry working off the west coast of Africa. The move gave Bourbon corporate experience of operating within the deep-water offshore market, and continued success over the next ten years enabled the company to purchase eight more ships to increase its capacity. In 1996, the company took a major step forward into its transformation to a shipping group when it acquired France’s Les Abeilles. By 2000, Bourbon’s shipping revenues were growing rapidly and already represented one-third of the group’s total annual sales revenue.

At the end of 2001 Bourbon began the process of exiting from its commercial activities within the retail sector, and to focus on the search for opportunities for expansion in the international maritime market. In 2002, the group bought major stakes in rival offshore companies. The refocused Bourbon group now boasted revenues of €940 million, with its shipping operations accounting for 38 percent of those sales. While France remained the company’s major commercial market, international operations had expanded to account for 39 percent of the group’s total sales.

The Bourbon Group, under the management of CEO Christian Lefévre since 2011, continues to seek new maritime markets within the oil and gas industry, and to consolidate its leading position in the fast-growing offshore services market.



As at December 2013, Bourbon operated a fleet of 485 marine vessels. It generated revenues of €1,311.9 million euros for the financial year ending December 2013.

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