French oil company Total’s CEO Christophe de Margerie dies after his private jet collided with a snowplow driven by an allegedly drunk driver on the runway of Vnukovo airport in Moscow, Russia.
The death of De Margerie, 63, occurred around midnight Moscow time as his Dassault Falcon was taking off for Paris under poor visibility conditions. The plane hit the snow-clearing machine and attempted to make an emergency landing, before crashing killing Total’s CEO and all three of the crew on board.
De Margerie was in Russia to attend a meeting on foreign investment in Gorki, near Moscow.
Total, one of the six biggest oil companies in the world, finds itself without a leader at a difficult time when oil prices are falling.
"Total will keep going. The group is organized to ensure the continuity of its governance," said Total's secretary-general Jean-Jacques Guilbaud.
"France is losing an extraordinary business leader who turned Total into a world giant," said France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
Known as ‘The Big Mustache’ in Total, De Margerie has always believed that the company will choose a successor from within.
Right now the shortlist includes Philippe Boisseau, President of Marketing & Services and New Energies of Total and Patrick Pouyanne, Total’s President of Refining & Chemicals.
Investigators aren’t ruling out an error on the part of air traffic control and/or the flight crew.