MOSCOW: Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive officer of French oil company Total has been killed in jet crash at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport late on Monday night.
The close friend of French President Francois Hollande, Christophe de Margerie died on the spot when his private jet collided with a snow plough as it was taking off for Paris from the Moscow’s oldest and third biggest airport.
De Margerie’s death leaves a void at the top of one of the world’s biggest listed oil firms at a difficult time for the industry as oil prices fall and state-backed competitors keep them out of some of the best oil exploration territory.
Total officials said that Russia’s Investigative Committee said the driver of the snow plough had been drunk and that a criminal investigation had been launched. The plane’s three crew members also died. The airport said visibility was 350 meters at the time of the crash.
De Margerie, 63, had attended a Russian government meeting on foreign investment in Gorki near Moscow on Monday. With his distinctive bushy mustache and outspoken manner, he was one of the most recognizable of the world’s top oil executives. Total is France’s second-biggest listed company, with a market value of 102 billion euros.