Total SA boss Patrick Pouyanne proved as soon as once more that he’ll go the place different enterprise leaders worry to tread.

The storm in Saudi Arabia brought on by the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was an excessive amount of for the chief government officers of Siemens AG and BlackRock Inc., who pulled out of an funding convention in Riyadh this week. But the pinnacle of France’s oil big didn’t simply present up, he maintained a excessive profile.

“It’s preferable to interact in frank and assertive dialogue, during which we make our values clear, with our companions” he stated within the glittering plenary corridor, wanting relaxed in a blue navy go well with alongside Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih. “We see what partnership means when you might have a tough time.”


He later posted the identical message to his roughly eight,000 followers on Twitter, alongside an image of himself with a backdrop that learn “Invest Saudi.”

Pouyanne was maybe essentially the most senior Western government to attend what had been dubbed “Davos within the Desert.” Many of his friends selected to forgo the convention, held in a conference middle alongside the Ritz-Carlton resort in Riyadh, had been scores of senior officers and businessmen had been imprisoned for weeks in 2017.

The Total CEO went on to signal memorandums of understanding with Saudi Aramco that foresee a joint funding of $5 billion in a petrochemicals undertaking within the kingdom, and one other collaboration in gas retail stations. His counterpart at Siemens, Joe Kaeser, needed to delay the signing of a power-plant contract that would finally be price as a lot as $20 billion.

Pouyanne has taken different daring stances within the Middle East. Total was the primary main western power firm to join a giant undertaking in Iran after the U.S. lifted sanctions again in 2016. Although that enterprise is on ice since President Donald Trump reimposed the restrictions.

Total has efficiently navigated enmity between the Gulf Arab states, making large investments in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates whereas additionally sustaining a big enterprise of their political foe Qatar.

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When requested on the similar convention in Riyadh a 12 months in the past why he’s eager to guess on the Middle East, Pouyanne had a disarmingly easy reply: That’s the place the oil is.


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