Former captain of industry and Minister of the Economy, Francis Mer died at the age of 84, former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the former communications director of the Usinor group where Francis Mer had worked, and the chief of staff of the mayor of Bourg-la-Reine where Francis Mer lived. His funeral is planned for November 8 in Bourg-la-Reine, in Hauts-de-Seine, said Jean-Pierre Raffarin at AFP. He paid tribute on X to the former minister who according to him had “uncompromising ethics, integral loyalty, a desire to serve. He loved France.
“There are industrialists who leave their mark on their country, at Saint-Gobain as at the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industry, Francis Mer served France with high standards and passion,” reacted Wednesday on X (formerly Twitter ) the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire. “He was a very demanding boss but a real boss, whom I esteemed a lot, (...) who knew what had to be done and knew how to train people,” Pierre Bourrier, former communications director of the Usinor group, who specified that Francis Mer had died on Tuesday.
A mining engineer who also attended the Ecole Polytechnique, Francis Mer, a big boss known for his outspokenness, participated in the destiny of large industrial groups, from Saint-Gobain, which he joined at the very beginning of the 1970s, to Usinor- Sacilor (now ArcelorMittal) or more recently Safran. Without political experience, Francis Mer also occupied for two years, from May 2002 to March 2004, the chair of a super-ministry bringing together the economy, finance and industry in the government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin.
Father of three daughters, Francis Mer was born on May 25, 1939 in Pau. The son of an engineer, he himself began his career as a mining engineer at the Ministry of Industry in 1966, according to his biography published on the government website. He spent a few years in administration (1966-1970), before joining the Saint-Gobain industrial group. He quickly became the general director of Saint-Gobain Industries, before continuing his career in the steel industry.
In 1986, the government chose him to provide a single direction to the two enemy poles of the French steel industry, Usinor and Sacilor. He brought them together into a single entity, Usinor-Sacilor, improved their performance and privatized the group in 1995, which became Arcelor in 2002 (subsequently bought by Mittal). Manager of several companies, he has also held directorships, notably at Rhodia, Alstom and the Canadian nickel giant Inco. In 2007, he became chairman of the supervisory board of the Safran group, appointed to restore order after a “war of bosses”, then vice-chairman of the board of directors from 2011 to 2013.