Oil giants, Total, have named the executives Patrick Pouyanne, head of refining as chief executive and former chief executive, Thierry Desmarest as chairman to replace Christophe de Margerie, the executive chairman who died in a plane crash in Moscow on Monday.
Pouyanne, aged 51, a graduate engineer, spent many years at the French Industry Ministry before joining Total in 1997. Desmarest, aged 68, was chief executive between 1995 and 2007, and was appointed honorary president of Total’s board of directors in 2010. The roles of chief executive and chairman will be split temporarily, Total said after a board meeting
In a statement by Total, Desmarest is said to retire at the end of 2015, after which the roles of chief executive and chairman would be re-combined. Analysts said Desmarest would help mentor Pouyanne in his role until he took over as executive chairman.
Margerie, who replaced Desmarest in 2007, was one of the most recognisable – and outspoken – executives in the oil industry. His trademark handlebar moustache earned him the nickname “Big Moustache”. He was a critic of European sanctions against Russia, arguing that such actions would simply push Russia closer to China.
Margerie died along with crew members after a private jet hit a snow plough whose driver has been accused by the authorities of being drunk on the airport runway. But he has denied drinking, saying on Wednesday that he lost his bearings due to the bad weather and was unaware he was on the runway.