Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited , , often called Jardines or Jardine's, is a multinational company that is incorporated in Bermuda and which trades on the London and Singapore stock exchanges.
Currently Jardines consists of the following companies: Jardine Pacific , Jardine Motors Group , Jardine Lloyd Thompson , Jardine Strategic , Dairy Farm, Hongkong Land, Mandarin Oriental, and Cycle & Carriage .
Jardine Matheson was formed in China in 1832 by William Jardine and James Matheson, both British citizens from Scotland. The company played a central role in the founding and development of Hong Kong and was among the first European companies to establish itself in Shanghai, as well as the first foreign company to establish itself in Japan.
The companies started out as a trading company, making its vast initial fortune trading opium and heroin with China. When Chinese officials attempted to wipe out opium trading, the company became one of the primary instigators of the first Opium War in 1840, between Britain and China. By 1842, with China defeated, the lucrative trade in opium continued.
Jardine Matheson have diversified enormously since, becoming a large conglomerate with operations in several south-east Asian nations and in the UK. In the 1990s the holding company changed its location of incorporation from Hong Kong to Bermuda, and in addition, moved the primary listing of its shares from Hong Kong to Singapore. There are several supposed reasons for this: at the time that this happened, Hong Kong was in the run up to the handover in 1997, the Tiananmen Square events were still fresh in the conciousness of Hong Kong, plus Jardines was still very much a British company in its upper echelons, more so than other hongs. The controlling family is the Keswick family , from whom Sir Percy Wetherall , the current tai pan comes.
In Japan, the company's Japanese name (ジャーディン・マセソン) is the transliteration of its English name. Due to its long history in Hong Kong, the company's Chinese corporate identity (怡和集團 pinyin yi2 he2 ji2 tuan2) uses a totally unrelated name. On the other hand, the transliteration of Jardine (渣甸 with no particular meaning) can be found as place name everywhere in Hong Kong.
For years, Jardines has fired a cannon shot at every noon in Causeway Bay, by Victoria Harbour, slightly eastward of the former Kellett Island. This tradition, known as the Noon Day Gun, still continues today.
In 1876 the company built the first railway in China.
The Jardine Matheson holding company became publicly traded in 1961.
In the early 20th century Jardine's principal offices were in Shanghai. After the Communist takeover in China, these were moved to Hong Kong. In the 1980s Jardines redomiciled to Bermuda in anticipation of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. Despite this move Jardines remains largely an Asian company.
The tai pans offices are located on the top two floors of Jardine House.
Jardines was the thinly-disguised inspiration for a series of novels written by James Clavell, including Tai-Pan, Gai-Jin, and Noble House.
See also: List of British companies
Last updated: 05-21-2005 15:12:57