French oil giant gives City a vote of confidence


London Mayor Boris Johnson put one over on the French President François Hollande yesterday as France’s biggest oil company said it would move its finance department from Paris to London.

Total’s decision was described by City insiders as a significant boost for London’s status as the financial capital of Europe.

The company wants to move its corporate treasury department to London to be nearer to stock market analysts who cover it and raise its profile with international investors. The oil giant is considering moving 60 staff from its treasury department to London and about 10 people in investor relations. “It’s currently under discussion with social partners, trade unions,” said a spokesman. “It would concern 60 to 70 people – maximum 70 people, out of the group’s 100,000 staff.

“The idea is to get closer to London, which is the oil trading and financial centre of Europe, to allow the group to improve its international visibility.”

The move is likely to ruffle feathers in the Socialist government of Mr Hollande, whose campaign pledge to raise taxes on the rich has infuriated some business figures and prompted threats that some high earners would move out of France in protest.

“Total pays and will continue to pay its taxes in France,” the spokesman said, noting that the group had paid €1.2bn (£1bn) to the French treasury in 2012.

The corporate treasurer, Humbert de Wendel, and financial communications head, Martin Deffontaines, would move to London under the plan, but the chief financial officer, Patrick de La Chevardière, would remain in Paris, the spokesman added.

The executive committee will stay in Paris and no other departments are set to move. The  plan will not be implemented before the end of the year.