Total CEO Plans to Attend Saudi Investment Conference

(Bloomberg) -- Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive of French oil company Total, plans to attend this week’s Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh which many global business and governmental leaders are shunning.

“Total has never been in favor of sanctions and isolation -- for example, against Russia, Iran or Qatar -- and nor do we support boycotts,” Pouyanne said in a statement published Monday on the company’s website.

“Total believes it is preferable to engage in frank, assertive dialogue, in which we make our values clear, with our partner countries,” the executive said. Boycotts and withdrawal of investment “only hurt the ordinary people of the country.”

Total has been a partner with oil group Saudi Aramco for 40 years and recently announced a major joint investment project in the petrochemical sector in Saudi Arabia, Pouyanne said. The recent project is a $5 billion petrochemicals project in Jubail by Saudi Aramco and Total signed a few weeks ago.

“I would like to make it clear that I fully understand and share the emotions sparked by the death of Jamal Khashoggi under circumstances that must be clarified,” Pouyanne said.

Leading corporate executives, including Siemens AG CEO Joe Kaeser on Monday, have pulled out of the Saudi event following the death of dissident journalist Khashoggi. on U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Monday called Saudi explanations of Khashoggi’s death “not credible.”

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