Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of French oil company Total, has died in an air crash in Moscow, the BBC reports.
His corporate jet collided with a snow plough and then was engulfed in flames. All four people on board were killed.
The driver of the snow plough was drunk, according to Russian investigators.
Mr de Margerie, 63, had been chief executive of Europe’s third largest oil company since 2007. He was highly regarded within the oil industry.
“France is losing an extraordinary business leader who turned Total into a world giant,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement.
“France is losing a great industry captain and a patriot.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences.
News agency Tass quoted a Kremlin spokesman as saying: “The President highly appreciated de Mergerie’s business skills, his continued commitment to the development of not only bilateral Russian-French relations, but also on multi-faceted levels.”
Mr de Margerie joined Total Group after graduating from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in Paris in 1974.
At the company, where he had spent his entire career, he was nicknamed “Big Moustache”.