The death of Total CEO Christophe de Margerie - a staunch defender of Russia and its energy policies - in a collision at a Moscow airport leaves a void at the top of the oil giant at a time of falling prices and other major challenges for the industry. Hayley Platt reports.
The accident which killed Total's CEO Christophe de Margerie has shocked and saddened many. His death leaving a void at the top of one of the world's biggest listed oil firms. The news shaved two percent off Total's share price. It soon recovered - but the question now is who will become his successor? BGC's Mike Ingram. SOUNDBITE: Mike Ingram, Market Strategist, BGC Partners, saying (English): "At the moment there appear to be two front runners, both internal. One is Patrick Pouyanne who's head of the refining and chemicals division and you've also got Phillipe Boisseau who's head of the new energy position. Both very charismatic figures and both seen as credible leaders for Total going forward." De Margerie was a colourful figure and huge influence in the global energy industry. Known as Mr Moustache - for obvious reasons. French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron was quick to reassure investors about the company's future. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH ECONOMY MINISTER, EMMANUEL MACRON, SAYING: "There is nothing to worry about for the future of Total. Christophe de Margerie was a great manager, and a great manager builds a company so that it can succeed beyond him." He also had a good working relationship with Russia. Total becoming one of the country's biggest foreign investors. It owns around 18 percent of Russian oil company Novatech. And has teamed up with Lukoil to drill for shale in the arctic circles. President Putin described de Margerie as a true friend of Russia's. Pierre Briançon from Reuters BreakingViews says he'll be a hard act to follow. SOUNDBITE: Pierre Briançon, Reuters BreakingViews, saying (English): "He was liked in the media because he didn't speak like the usual French CEO. He didn't pretend to be an intellectual, he was a very down to earth, hard drinking, he didn't make a secret out of it. And of course his famous moustache was a big media attraction, the question is how do you replace such a flamboyant character." Christophe de Margerie was killed when his business jet collided with a snow plough during takeoff at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport. He'd been discussing foreign investment with the Russian government. And was due to go on to meet President Putin. Russian investigators said the driver of the snow plough had been drunk. He denies any wrong doing. A criminal investigation is now underway.