The chief executive of French oil major Total, Christophe de Margerie, was killed in a plane crash in Moscow at the Vnukovo airport on Monday night. According to reports, the plane struck a snow plow as it was taking off and investigators say the driver of the plow was drunk.
The death of De Margerie leaves a large hole at the top of one the largest oil firms and had been in the news lately with his bullish position on Russia when other companies were avoiding the nation over political sanctions imposed due to the Crimean events.
Total is France’s second largest oil company with a market value of 102 billion Euros and a supporter of Formula 1 through it’s Renault Sport F1 power unit fuel supply and sponsorship.
If fans were concerned over a succession plan for F1, Total seems to have an equally non-existent succession plan and recently increased the age cap for executives to accommodate the 63-year-old’s age for a longer tenure.
It’s unclear if Total’s involvement in F1 will suffer due to the loss of its CEO but like Santander’s investment, perhaps F1 was a personal project of the top executive and sometimes the investments stop when the CEO’s no longer helm the company.
France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls told Wall Street Journal that the country had lost a “great industrial captain.”
“France is losing a company chief out of the ordinary who knew how to transform Total into a global giant,” Mr. Valls said, expressing his “profound sadness” over the death and the loss of “a friend.”
Royal Dutch Shell PLC Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said
“Christophe was a larger-than-life character, a leader respected across the energy industry and a friend.”
“My thoughts are with his wife and family, and his many thousands of colleagues at Total,” Mr. van Beurden said.
It’s been a difficult year for CEO’s of F1 sponsors this year with the loss of Santander CEO, Emilio Botin.
Hat Tip: Wall Street Journal