The Swire Group’s privately owned parent company is John Swire & Sons Limited .
In 1861, John Swire & Sons Limited began to trade with China through agents Augustine Heard & Co. In 1866, in partnership with R.S. Butterfield, Butterfield & Swire was established in Shanghai. Four years later, a Hong Kong branch of Butterfield & Swire was also opened.
Four years after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Butterfield & Swire closed all of its China offices. In 1974, Butterfield & Swire in Hong Kong was renamed John Swire & Sons (H.K.) Ltd.
John Swire & Sons is responsible for formulating overall policy, as well as providing a wide range of management services and centralised support functions for Swire.
John Swire & Sons also controls the major trading group in Papua New Guinea, Steamships Trading Co., and through London-headquartered James Finlay, has substantial agricultural interests in Africa and Sri Lanka.