Laurent Meeus - Founder, administrator and director of Petrofina
Born in Antwerp in 1872. Civil engineer in mines at the University of Liège in 1897. He entered the following year into the Electricity and Hydraulics company of Charleroi. He worked for the development of several tramway projects between 1898 and 1904, notably internationally: Malaga, Kharkov, Antwerp, Athens, Baku, Saint Petersburg, Rosario. He stays in London during the War, and contributes to the reorganization of the electric company of the province of Buenos Aires. Much like Ernest Mercier, he is interested in the development of the energy sectors and of cement, glass, tobacco, stone in the Antwerp region. In 1925 he signed an important agreement with the Romanian government. From May 1940, he moved to Spain, from where he returned in July to participate in negotiations with the Germans, who sought to get hold of the Romanian companies Concordia, Vega and Sirius. At the end of 1940, with Albéric Maistriau, he signed the contract for the sale of all Concordia shares to Deutsche Bank. He was targeted by the procedures launched by the Belgian government after the Second World War, charged in June 1945 and sentenced, first to three years' imprisonment, then, after appealing on June 21, 1946, to seven years in prison and a heavy financial penalty; but a dismissal order was pronounced in May 1949. Note that L. Meeus had built a remarkable library. He died in 1950.