Totalfina and my youngest daughter: two births for the price of one
3 questions… on your feelings about the TOTAL FINA ELF mergers…
What activity did you perform at the time of the merger and within which entity?
I am an "ex-total" as we used to say at the time. In 1998, at the time of the first Total-Fina merger, I was an engineer in charge of the development of new bitumen products in France and Europe in Total's Black Products Division in Paris La Défense. In addition to this marketing development responsibility, I represented Total's bitumen business with standardization and lobbying bodies at the French and European levels.
How did you learn about the merger?
The first merger (Total-Fina), I learned it by listening to the radio, a Monday night at the end of a long weekend in November 1998, marked by the birth of my youngest daughter two days earlier. You imagine: two births for the price of one, my daughter and my company? In fact, we did not believe it because we thought that Total could not afford to buy Fina. We thought of an Elf-Fina fusion!
So, when I learned a few months later, the second merger (TotalFina-Elf), I was stunned that we could absorb a company of this size! I will never forget, when I arrived at the office this Monday morning of July 1999, the speech of our president Thierry Desmarest calmly announcing the public offer of exchange on Elf Aquitaine.
In a period of mega-mergers between majors encouraged by the fall in oil prices, the creation of a world-class French group against BP-Amoco-Arco or Exxon-Mobil, to name a few, was a huge relief . In addition, this second merger significantly expanded the scope of our products to market!
What is the most memorable memory you have of this period?
The memories that come to mind actually date from before the merger while prefiguring it. Thus, I was in charge of the technical communication for the bitumen of Total and made among other things to go from advertising to the professional press. One day, I ask a communication agency to make a 4-page and it offers me to illustrate the activity a very nice photo of a tanker truck carrying bitumen ... wearing a beautiful Elf logo! We had to pound everything to pick a truck picture with a Total logo.
Another memory ... After the tragic fire of March 24, 1999 in the Mont Blanc Tunnel, it was necessary to redo the entire roadway. And there, although being Total, I fought for a very high performance bitumen-polymer, developed by the researchers of Elf Aquitaine. And it's the same bitumen, hard and resistant, that we probably still find today in the tunnel!