The late boss of Total, Christophe de Margerie, was the grandson of Champagne baron Pierre Taittinger and a company man at one of the jewels in the French industrial crown for 40 years.
“Big moustache” as he was known by some also had a reputation for straight-talking. If there was oil, his company would go after it was his rationale, and that single-mindedness led De Margerie and Total to go after it in a big way; the company is now the world’s number four, with a footprint in nearly every major oil and gas-producing region.
At the helm since 2007, de Margerie attacked sanctions against Russia, in which Total has significant investments which he was expanding.
In France he was perhaps best known for being one of the few captains of industry agreeing with the Socialist government in 2011 when it tried to introduce a 75 percent top tax rate.
“He was a great CEO, and also a great personality. I would say almost a big mouth, with a capacity to speak his mind, without any fear of bothering whoever he was speaking to, whoever they were, heads of states, big CEOs or French political leaders, to whom he knew how to speak frankly,” said French Finance Minister Michel Sapin.