Jean Riboud, Legendary Oil Executive
PARIS (AP) _ Jean Riboud, a French Resistance fighter who survived a Nazi concentration camp and became a legend in the oil industry as chairman of Schlumberger Ltd., has died after suffering from cancer for more than a year, Schlumberger said Monday. He was 65.
Riboud had stepped down as chairman of Schlumberger on Sept. 11, after his condition worsened. He had been chief executive of the company for more than 20 years and was responsible for building it into the world’s leading oilfield services business.
Under Riboud, Schlumberger often was praised as being one of the best managed businesses in the world.
Schlumberger said Riboud died Sunday night at his home in Paris. He is survived by his wife, Krishna, who comes from a wealthy Bombay family; a son, Christophe, who heads a public opinion polling company; and three grandchildren.
Riboud was a lieutenant in the French Army in the early part of World War II. He later joined the French Resistance, was taken prisoner and survived two years at the Buchenwald concentration camp before he was released by American forces in May 1945.
He joined Schlumberger is May 1951 as an assistant to Marcel Schlumberger, a co-founder of the group. He was named president and chief executive in May 1965 and became chairman of the board in March 1972.
Michel Vaillaud, who succeeded Riboud as chairman last month, recalled in a recent interview that during Riboud’s reign as chief executive, Schlumberger’s profit soared almost 44 times and revenue increased nearly 20 times.
Ribuod was described in a 1983 profile in the New Yorker magazine as a ″man of contrasts″ who described himself as a socialist but headed one of the world’s largest corporations. The article said his closest friends were artists and writers, and said he was a stranger to most other top corporate executives.
He was a longtime friend of Socialist French President Francois Mitterrand and a shareholder in the leftist French newspaper Liberation.
In addition to operating an international business providing exploration services to the oil industry, Schlumberger also has interests in semiconductors and computers.