PARIS (Reuters) - French oil major Total (TOTF.PA) plans to move its corporate treasury department to London to get closer to analysts covering the company and raise its profile with investors, a spokesman for the group said on Monday.
Total is discussing moving 60 staff from the treasury department to London as well as about 10 people in charge of financial communication, the spokesman said, confirming a report by investigative website Mediapart.
“It’s currently under discussion with social partners, trade unions,” a spokesman told Reuters. “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 center of Europe to allow the group to improve its international visibility,” the spokesman said.
The move is likely to ruffle feathers with the Socialist government of President Francois Hollande, whose campaign pledges to raise taxes on the rich had infuriated some business figures and prompted threats that some high earners would move out of France in protest.
Corporate treasurer Humbert de Wendel and financial communications head Martin Deffontaines would move to London but Chief Financial Officer Patrick de La Chevardiere would remain in Paris, the spokesman said.
“Total pays and will continue to pay its taxes in France,” the spokesman said, noting the group had paid 1.2 billion euros ($1.59 billion) in taxes to the French treasury in 2012.
The executive committee will stay in Paris and no other departments are set to move, the spokesman said, adding that the plan will not take place before the end of the year.
Shares in the group, which reported better-than-expected first-half results earlier this month, have been trading at a discount to other Western oil majors. Some analysts have said the company has suffered from a “French discount” with U.S. and UK-based investors although other analysts have played down that idea.
Total will hold an investor day conference in London on September 23.
Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Patrick Graham