Total’s Margerie May Keep Job Beyond 2015 on Age-Rule Change

Total SA’s board of directors proposed a change that would enable Christophe de Margerie to remain chairman and chief executive officer of France’s biggest explorer beyond next year.

The board proposed raising the age limit for chairman to 70 from 65 and of CEO to 67 from 65, according to a statement today. The amendment must be approved by shareholders.

The executive, who turns 63 on Aug. 6, was named CEO in 2007 and chairman in 2010, according to the 2012 annual report. His three-year term as a director expires next year.

De Margerie, who joined Total shortly after graduating from business school in 1974, is starting major projects from the North Sea to Angola and selling billions of dollars in assets to pay for them. The CEO, known for his straight-talking and bushy mustache, has also increased drilling in search of large deposits in a bid to boost production.

With the rule change, a three-year renewal of de Margerie’s term as director would allow him to remain CEO and chairman for the period. He could then stay on as chairman should another CEO be named in the same way former chairman Thierry Desmarest stayed on during de Margerie’s first years as CEO.

The board will decide in May 2015 after a vote by shareholders on the directorship whether to extend the CEO and chairman term, de Margerie told analysts today at a meeting in London. Raising the age limits “gives the board more flexibility on the decision.”

Employee Representatives

Another proposed rule change is for the addition of one or more directors on the board to represent employees. This is a practice at other French energy companies including Electricite de France SA and GDF Suez SA, which have union members on their boards.

Total’s fourth-quarter profit excluding changes in inventories dropped to 2.47 billion euros ($3.4 billion) from 3.04 billion euros a year earlier as refining margins narrowed, the Courbevoie-based company said today in a statement. The company raised its quarterly dividend as a strong balance sheet allowed it to increase shareholder returns, it said.

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