20 years ago: TOTAL, FINA and ELF mergers

PetroFina and Total merger


  • Spring 1998, discussions began between Thierry Desmarest and his financial director Robert Castaigne on one side, Albert Frère and his closest collaborator Thierry de Rudder on the other.

  • September, the discussions are interrupted.

  • November 19th, through the banker business Jean-Marc Forneri, new discussions open between Total and PetroFina.

  • November 26th, Thierry Desmarest submits to Albert Frère a proposal in three points: the merger will be done with a premium of 40%, the new Group will take the name of Totalfina and a decision center will be maintained in Brussels. The Belgian financier agrees.

  • November 30th, the board of directors of Total gives the green light to the operation.

  • December 1st, Total announces the acquisition of PetroFina.

rapprochement Total et Petrofina
Announcement, December 1st, of the merger between Total and PetroFina



  • January 14th, 1999, the shareholders' meetings of PetroFina and Total formalize the creation of the Totalfina group.

  • July 2nd, the OPE on PetroFina officially ends with the green light from the European Commission.


Merger between Totalfina and Elf Aquitaine

  • July 5th , 1999, Thierry Desmarest calls Philippe Jaffré to announce that he launches, the same day, an OPE on Elf Aquitaine. Soon after, an official statement from Totalfina makes the news public. The Group offers four Totalfina shares against three Elf Aquitaine shares, ie a 15% premium, all without cash payment.

note d'information


  • July 19th, Elf Aquitaine deposits a counter-OPE. It offers three Elf shares against five Totalfina and especially a partial payment in cash. It also proposes the separation of all chemical activities, while preserving the synergies of proximity with refining.

synergies special fusion
Synergies magazine - Special Merger 1999
contre offre Elf
Counter OPE from Elf Aquitaine on the 6th of August 1999


  • September 12th, the Board of Directors of Totalfina validates the terms of the offer. The one of Elf Aquitaine does the same the next morning. Thierry Desmarest proposes to exchange 13 Elf shares against 19 Totalfina shares, a premium of 26% compared to the Elf-Aquitaine share price on July 2nd.

    September 13th, Thierry Desmarest and Philippe Jaffré meet at the Institute of the Arab World for a joint press conference.

annonce de la fusion


  • October 29th, Philippe Jaffré leaves his position at the closing of the offer.


  • February 9th, 2000, the European Commission authorizes the merger between Totalfina and Elf Aquitaine.

  • February 15th, Thierry Desmarest becomes president of Elf Aquitaine.

  • March 22nd, the general meetings of shareholders ratify the birth of TotalFinaElf.


With more than 132,000 employees, a turnover of 114 billion euros and 2.1 million barrels per day, TotalFinaElf becomes the world's fourth largest hydrocarbon producer behind ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP Amoco. It is also, with 17,500 service stations worldwide and a refining capacity of 2.6 million barrels per day, the European leader and the co-leader in Africa downstream. TOTALFINAELF is finally the world number 5 in chemistry.