PARIS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The board of French oil major Total asked shareholders to raise the age limits for the chairman and chief executive positions in the group’s bylaws, a move that would allow an extension of Christophe de Margerie’s mandate at its helm.
The age limit for the chairman position would be raised to 70 from 65, while that for the chief executive role would be extended by two years to 67, amendments voted by the board to be submitted to the next general assembly showed on Wednesday.
“It would give the board more flexibility to take the best decision for the benefit of your company. I will not decide, I can still say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but the board will decide who and when,” De Margerie told analysts when asked about the change during a presentation.
De Margerie, which currently holds both roles, will turn 63 this year. The mandates run until 2015, and the age limits currently in place would make it impossible for him to seek a new mandate.
“I will be going for re-election in May 2015 as a board member. So if they don’t elect me, ‘khalas’ (‘enough’ in Arabic), I go fishing,” De Margerie said in comments made in English during the analyst presentation in London.
“Second option, they re-vote for me, and I am at the board for another three years. Then there’ll be a board meeting taking place after the AGM in May 2015 and they’ll decide what they want to have: a Chairman, a CEO or a Chairman and CEO,” he said.
De Margerie has been at the helm of France’s biggest listed company since 2007.
No heir apparent has emerged so far, although Philippe Boisseau, head of Total’s new energy division and Patrick Pouyanne, head of the refining branch are often cited as credible long-term candidates.
“Today most of the companies of the CAC 40 at least, have the chairman being able to stay on board until 70, so it’s just making the bylaws of Total in line with the benchmark,” De Margerie added.
The group reported fourth-quarter results earlier on Wednesday. (Reporting by Benjamin Mallet, writing by Michel Rose; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)