In the early 1900s, Mr Tsao Wa Chang, the grandfather of IMC’s founder Mr Frank Tsao, started a successful transportation business along the banks of the Huangpu River in Pudong, Shanghai. Subsequently, Mr Frank Tsao’s father, Mr Tsao Ying Yung, began his career at a major chemical company in Shanghai and later established a moderate-sized bank. By the early 1930s, the Tsao family could be said to be a family of means owning several promising business entities.
However, with the outbreak of World War II and subsequent civil war, China fell into turmoil. The Tsao family lost everything and had to move to Hong Kong to start afresh. Following the Chinese tradition, Mr Frank Tsao , being the eldest son, assumed his leadership role of providing for the family.
In 1949, Mr Frank Tsao started out with a small trading business, went on to buy his first ship and co-founded the Great Southern Steamship Co. Ltd.. In 1966, he founded International Maritime Carriers Ltd. (IMC) in Hong Kong, a shipping company which eventually grew into a substantial enterprise with ships transporting a wide range of commodities worldwide.
Mr Frank Tsao was able to navigate the company through a major shipping downturn in the early 1980s. While pursuing his business ventures, he helped found Malaysia’s national shipping line, her first shipyard and seamen training centre. He also led a consortium to develop Singapore’s Suntec City.
In the mid 1990s, Mr Frank Tsao’s son, Mr Chavalit Frederick Tsao, took on the leadership and expanded the business as the Chairman of the IMC Group. He was instrumental in the privatisation and successful turn-around of Thailand’s national shipping line and its subsequent listing on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
As the current chairman of the IMC Group, he spearheaded the modernisation of IMC’s business operations. Besides expanding and diversifying the company, he has also entered into strategic alliances and partnerships. He privatised IMC in 2002, so that the Group could take advantage of the unprecedented global shipping boom, resulting from China’s spectacular economic growth.