Thank you Mr Thierry Desmarest for being a bold and visionary strategist!
3 questions… about the TOTALFINA & ELF merger…
How did you learn about the merger TOTALFINA & ELF?
I arrived at about 07:30 that morning at Michelet where I worked as a documentalist in Total's documentation and archives department. There were screens announcing a takeover bid on Elf. We looked at each other, saying, "We did not even have time to digest Fina! ". I see ourselves motionless and silent in front of the screens. The ad was read and re-read in complete silence, without believing it.
I had been bathing in the barrel since I was little, I had always heard my father talk about a merger of Elf on Total, but not the other way around! It was the merger that took place a few months before with Fina that allowed us to succeed the takeover bid on Elf. Without this first fusion, we would have been unable to do so. We have been a few to have sent a note to Thierry Desmarest to congratulate him on this strategic and visionary daring.
How did you experience the merger on a daily basis?
Without real difficulty! Very soon, meetings between the services at Total or at Elf made it possible to concretise the merger through joint work. When we moved from Michelet to Coupole, some saw us arrive a bit like intruders with whom to share offices ... But this period did not last! Very quickly, we made common teams.
Up to a certain hierarchical level, salaries were almost 20% higher for Elf than for Total, which was obviously difficult for some people in exactly the same positions in both societies. Moreover, the benefits of Elf CE were also much higher than ours, which frustrated a lot of Elf people when everything was harmonized. Our union culture - and that of the schedules - were also quite different! But Thierry Desmarest was very skilled in structuring the new entity by creating hierarchical “millefeuilles” that alternated Elf and Total managers. The TotalFinaElf merger is for me one of the most successful international mergers in the field of energy!
What did it mean to you to belong to one of the top five global oil companies?
A fabulous pride ... and an admiration for the one who managed this fusion! From the first day I worked within Total - the "little" Total at the time, in 1983 - I thought, "how lucky I have been to work in such a company! "