Greater China

Former Swire supremo James Hughes-Hallett dies at 70

James Hughes-Hallett, the former chairman of Swire Group, passed away on October 12 at the age of 70 after a long illness.

Hughes-Hallett, who started out at a ship agent, joining the Swire Group in 1976 and eventually he rose to become chairman of the group between 2005 and 2015. After his long career at Swire, he took the chairman’s role of shipbroking firm Clarkson from 2015 until March 2018. He remained a non-executive director at both firms through to his death.

Throughout his long career, Hughes-Hallett also served as chairman of Cathay Pacific (1999-2005) and director of HSBC Holdings (2005-2014).

“The board will remember James for his great leadership and passion. Even whilst suffering from his illness, James remained dedicated to Clarksons, continuing to serve on the board as a non-executive director and committee member, and we remain indebted for the invaluable guidance he provided,” said Bill Thomas, chairman of Clarkson.

Commenting on his passing, Richard Hext, a long-term friend and colleague at Swire, told Splash today: “James was extraordinarily able, extraordinarily humble. An unsung shipping legend.”

Hughes-Hallett was responsible for appointing Arthur Bowring as managing director of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) around the time of the city’s reunification with China, a position Bowring would hold for 20 years.

On hearing of the death of the former chairman of the HKSOA, Bowring told Splash: “This is incredibly sad news. We have lost a great friend of the industry. He was generous, humble, always available, and extremely supportive, a real gentleman.”

Jason Jiang

Jason is one of the most prolific writers on the diverse China shipping & logistics industry and his access to the major maritime players with business in China has proved an invaluable source of exclusives. Having been working at Asia Shipping Media since inception, Jason is the chief correspondent of Splash and associate editor of Maritime CEO magazine. Previously he had written for a host of titles including Supply Chain Asia, Cargo Facts and Air Cargo Week.


  1. James went out of his way to make me feel welcome when I joined Swires, in 1985, and continued to do so in later years. A kind, thoughtful, man of really remarkable intelligence and insight, whose analysis of shipping conundrums was really exceptionally percipient. James never had a bad word for anyone, but his quiet, wicked, sense of humour showed that though he was modest, he was absolutely nobody’s fool.

    One of my favourite people.

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