Total May Pull Off A Total Turnaround

It was a strong start for a new boss. Thierry Desmarest had barely moved into the chairman's office at French oil company Total when he flew off to Tehran in July to sign a landmark deal he had negotiated as Total's production head. It makes Total the first foreign oil company to explore and produce in Iran since the Shah fled in 1979. Back in Paris, Desmarest is now plotting a similar coup in Iraq for his $27 billion company. After four years of technical talks with Iraq's state oil company, "we're ready to start work quickly" once U.N. sanctions end, he says.

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