By Bate Felix
PARIS (Reuters) – French oil major Total <TOTF.PA> will freeze recruitment, boost costs savings and halt its share buyback programme due to tumbling oil prices, chief executive Patrick Pouyanne told staff in a video message on Thursday, according to a union official.
The group is the latest oil and gas producer to slash investment plans and cut costs following a slide in oil prices to 20-year lows on the back of a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, and a slowdown in global demand linked to the coronavirus.
A Total representative was not immediately available to comment.
Total plans to cut its investment programme in all segments by about 20% and find additional costs savings of around $400 million this year, Pouyanne said in the video message, CGT union delegate Thierry Defresne told Reuters.
The group had planned around $18 billion of net investments in 2020 and to buy back around $2 billion worth of shares.
Defresne, who watched the video, said CEO Pouyanne confirmed the share buyback programme will be halted.
He said Pouyanne told staff that there was a $9 billion hole to be plugged and the measures taken will cover around $5.5 billion. He said Total intended to borrow to cover the remaining shortfall.
(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by David Goodman and Jan Harvey)