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Total names Patrick Pouyanne to replace de Margerie

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 23:56
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The world's fourth largest oil company also named Thierry Desmarest, a former Total CEO, as non-executive chairman - PHOTO: AFP

[PARIS] French oil company Total has appointed refining boss Patrick Pouyanne as chief executive to succeed Christophe de Margerie who was killed in a plane crash in Moscow this week.

Mr Pouyanne, 51, head of refining, had been considered as possible candidate to succeed de Margerie in the past and has a reputation as a shrewd cost-cutter.

The world's fourth largest oil company also named Thierry Desmarest, a former Total CEO, as non-executive chairman. The appointments came less than 48 hours after Mr de Margerie's death.

Mr Desmarest, 68, also previously honorary chairman of the oil group, will keep the chairman position until the end of 2015, after which the roles of CEO and chairman will be combined, Total said in a statement following an emergency board meeting. Mr De Margerie was both chairman and CEO.

Mr Pouyanne had a major role in merging Total's loss-making"downstream" refining and petrochemical businesses, a shake-up designed to counter declining European gasoline demand and bring US$650 million in extra cash per year from 2015.

Analysts said Mr Pouyanne's success in creating synergies and cutting costs in the refining arm could be used as a template for the rest of the group.

REUTERS