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BASF Aktiengesellschaft

 


Address:
Carl-Bosch-Strasse 38
67056 Ludwigshafen
Germany

Telephone: (49) 621-60-4-32-63
Fax: (49) 621-60-42525
http://www.basf.com

Statistics:
Public Company
Incorporated: 1952 as Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik AG
Employees: 92,545 (2001)
Sales: DM 32,500 billion (US $29 billion) (2001)
Stock Exchanges: Frankfurt London New York Paris Zurich
Ticker Symbol: BA (Paris), BAS (Frankfurt), BAS (Zurich), BF (New York), BFA (London)
NAIC: 325000 Chemical Manufacturing, 325411 Medici- nal and Botanical Manufacturing, 325320 Pesticide and Other Agricultural Chemical Manufacturing, 325131 Inorganic Dye and Pigment Manufacturing, 325110 Paint and Coating Manufacturing, 325110 Petrochemical Manufacturing, 325188 All Other Basic Inorganic Chemical Manufacturing, 325311 Nitrogenous Fertilizer Manufacturing, 325190 Other Basic Organic Chemical Manufacturing, 325200 Resin, Synthetic Rubber and Artificial and Synthetic and Filaments Manufacturing, 334613 Magnetic and Optical Recording Media Manufacturing, 211111 Crude Petroleum and Natural Gas Extraction, 324191 Petroleum Lubricating Oil and Grease Manufacturing


Company Perspectives:
BASF is the world's leading chemical company. We aim to increase and sustain our corporate value through growth and innovation. We offer our customers a range of high-performance products, including chemicals, plastics, coating systems, dispersions, agricultural products, fine chemicals as well as crude oil and natural gas. Our distinctive approach to integration, known in German as Verbund, is our strength. It enables us to achieve cost leadership and gives us a decisive competitive advantage in the long term. We act in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.


Key Dates:
1865: Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik AG (BASF) is founded by Friedrich Engelhorn in Ludwigshafen, Germany, for the production of coal tar dyestuffs.
1897: Indigo dye is first synthesized by BASF.
1908: Development of the Haber-Bosch process revolutionizes the production of nitrogen fertilizers.
1913: BASF's first ammonia synthesis plant starts operation at Oppau.
1925: I.G. Farbenindustrie AG (I.G. Farben) is founded in Frankfurt with the merger of BASF and other chemical and pharmaceutical companies, including Bayer AG (Bayer) & Farbwerke Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft vormals Meister Lucius & Bruning (Hoechst).
1939: I.G. Farben joins the war effort in Germany.
1945: Allied Control Council orders the dissolution of I.G. Farben. BASF's Ludwigshafen plant continues to operate independently.
1951: Under the name Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik AG, BASF develops Styropor, a white rigid foam used as an insulating and packaging material.
1952: Company is incorporated under the name of Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik AG.
1958: BASF establishes a join venture with The Dow Chemical Company, United States.
1965: BASF begins acquiring other companies to produce surface coatings, drugs, crop protection agents, and fertilizers.
1969: BASF acquires Wyandotte Chemicals Corporation, United States, and Wintershall AG, the German oil company.
1972: Company changes its name to BASF Aktiengesellschaft.
1975: BASF acquires Boots Pharmaceutical (United Kingdom), and a majority interest in Knoll AG. (The remaining interests in Knoll AG are purchased in 1982.)
1990: BASF takes over a united Germany's Synthesewerk Schwarzheide.
1991: BASF Ecology Laboratory begins work.
1993: BASF & Gazprom (Russia's leading natural gas producer) establish WINGAS to market and distribute gas in Central and Eastern Europe.
1995: BASF opens its first plant in Nanjing, China.
1998: With PetroFina, BASF constructs the world's largest steamcracker plant at Port Arthur, Texas; the company founds BASF Plant Science, a worldwide research platform, with sites in Germany, Sweden, Canada, and the United States.
2000: BASF is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the listing BF and the company's worldwide pharmaceutical business is sold to Abbott Laboratories, Inc.
2001: The company begins transacting business via Elemica, a neutral electronic marketplace and sets up a global extranet platform, WorldAccount.


Company History:

Since the company's founding in 1865, Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik AG (now known as BASF Aktiengesellschaft) has been a major influence in the world chemical industry. As one of the three largest German chemical companies, BASF exerted an influence from 1924 to 1947 that extended far beyond dyes and nylons. When the company joined with Bayer and Hoechst to form the world's largest chemical cartel--one of the most powerful cartels in history--BASF was instrumental in helping to secretly rearm Germany.

For its role during these years, the chemical cartel, known as the I.G. Farbenindustrie AG (I.G. Farben) consisting of the merger of companies such as BASF AG, Bayer AG, and Hoechst AG, was broken up by the Allies, and BASF again existed as an independent company. Despite the fact that almost half of its plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany, was reduced to rubble during World War II, BASF was able to reestablish its presence in the chemical industry. It is now the world's largest chemical maker, just ahead of du Pont and Bayer. In addition to its flagship production facilities in Ludwigshafen (the world's largest chemical site), BASF operates major facilities in Caojing, China; Geismar, Louisiana; Yeosu, Korea; Altamira, Mexico; Singapore; Antwerp, Belgium, Schwarzheide, Germany; and Tudela, Spain. BASF holds a significant share of the international market in chemicals, natural gas, plastics, pharmaceuticals, crop protection agents, and its original product, dyes.

Early History in the Late 19th Century

BASF was founded in 1865 by Friedrich Engelhorn, a jeweler, along the banks of the Rhine River at Mannheim. Using the discoveries of the English scientist William Perkins, BASF became one of the first companies to manufacture dyes from coal tar. Its specialty was the bright bluish-purple known as indigo. The attraction of BASF's process lay in the fact that it took coal tar, a messy byproduct of gas distillation, and transformed it into something that replaced a more expensive and unreliable organic substance.

BASF's synthetic dyes were less expensive, brighter, and easier to use than organic dyes. Profits from these dyes were used to finance BASF's diversification into inorganic chemicals later in the century as well as new production facilities across the river in Ludwigshafen.

By the early 20th century, journalists were calling BASF "The World's Greatest Chemical Works." In 1910 the company employed over 8,000 people and by 1926 this number had grown to 42,000. Its production facilities in Ludwigshafen alone covered 2,787 acres. American journalists were impressed by BASF's charity and reported, "The company has given a great deal of attention to welfare work; especially to housing, hygiene and the care of the sick."

BASF's sanatoriums and dispensaries, along with its main production facilities, were financed in part by business arrangements that would be illegal today in either Germany or the United States. Beginning around 1900 leaders of the German chemical industry began to dream of what was, in effect, the merger of most German chemical companies. Should this cartel be formed, said Carl Duisberg, the man who eventually set up the I.G. Farben, "... the now existing domination of the German chemical industry, especially the dye industry, over the rest of the world would then, in my opinion, be assured."

Cartels Formed in Early 20th Century

By 1904 two major cartels had been formed. The first of these cartels included Bayer and BASF; the second cartel was anchored by Hoechst. Not only did these firms avoid competition and fix prices, but they also set up a quota system and even shared their profits. For instance, a marketing agreement was reached for the sale of indigo, which was one of the most profitable dyes.

Both cartels played an important role during World War I. Not only was dye necessary for garments, the basic chemical formulas for dyes could be altered slightly to make mustard gas and munitions. Companies such as BASF provided gas and explosives for German troops and, previous to the United States' entry into the war, they initiated economic activities that stunted the growth of the chemical companies important to the U.S. war effort. For instance, BASF had sold aniline at below market prices to U.S. firms in order to discourage aniline production by U.S. companies. As part of the dye cartel it had also engaged in a practice called "full-line forcing." If a dealer wanted to purchase item A for example, available only from BASF, the dealer was forced to purchase the whole product line, effectively eliminating U.S. producers.

After the war the German government recognized the importance of the chemical industry, especially the dye industry. Not only did the chemical industry bring in needed foreign currency, it was critical to defense. Since the buildup of the chemical industry was so important to Germany, the cartels were granted government loans as well as a ten-year tax deferment. The cartels also received a special allotment of coal, which was scarce at the time.

I.G. Farben Formed in 1925

In 1925 the top executives in the chemical industry decided that the duplication of product lines and the maintenance of separate sales forces was wasteful. As a result, hundreds of German chemical companies (including Bayer and Hoechst) formally merged with BASF. This new corporation, headquartered at Ludwigshafen, was renamed the Interessengemeinschaft Farbenindustrie, or I.G. Farben. BASF ceased to exist as a legal entity; it operated for the next 26 years as "Betriebsgemeinschaft Oberrhein," or the upper Rhine operating unit of I.G. Farben.

The I.G. Farben set quotas and pooled profits. But this large trust was more than an economic entity--it was a political one. I.G. Farben's executives feared that leftists might triumph in Germany's unstable political climate and that I.G. Farben itself would be nationalized. This led to the I.G. Farben's support for Adolph Hitler. As early as 1931 its directors made secret contributions to the Nazi Party.

Notorious World War II Years

The I.G. Farben profited handsomely from its support of Hitler and his foreign policy, and it grew tremendously during World War II. By 1942 the cartel was making a yearly profit that was 800 million marks more than its entire combined capitalization in 1925, the year of its founding. Not only was the I.G. Farben given possession of chemical companies in foreign lands (the I.G. Farben had control of Czechoslovakian dye works a week after the Nazi invasion), but the captured lands also provided its factories in Germany with slave labor. In order to take advantage of slave labor, I.G. Farben plants were built next to Maidanek and Auschwitz.

At its peak, the I.G. Farben had controlling interest in 379 German firms and 400 foreign companies. It has been noted that one of the historic restraints on Germany was its lack of colonies to supply necessary products, such as rubber. During this time, the I.G. Farben, synthesizing many of the country's chemical needs with a native product, provided Germany with the self-sufficiency it lacked during World War I.

Near the end of the war, the BASF production facilities at Ludwigshafen were bombed extensively. While factories built during the war were often camouflaged, the old BASF factories were more visible to American bombers, which often flew over Ludwigshafen on the way back from other bombing raids and dropped any leftover bombs on the ammonia and nitrogen works. During the war BASF factories sustained the heaviest damage in the I.G. Farben with 45 percent of BASF buildings destroyed.

Postwar Rebuilding of BASF

With the surrender of Germany, I.G. Farben's problems had only just begun. Immediately after the war many members of the Vorstand, or board of directors of the I.G. Farben, were arrested and indicted for war crimes. There was a large amount of written evidence incriminating the Vorstand, most of it written by the directors themselves. I.G. Farben executives were in the habit of keeping copious records, not only of meetings and phone calls, but also of their private thoughts on the I.G. Farben's dealings with the government. Despite the quantity of written evidence and testimony from concentration camp survivors, the judges at Nuremberg dealt with the Vorstand leniently. Journalists covering the 1947 proceedings attributed the light sentences, none of which was longer than four years, to the fact that all the sentences in the trials were becoming less severe toward the end, and to the judges' unwillingness to lower the standards for active participation in war crimes to include businessmen.

The Potsdam Agreement referred to the necessity of dismantling the I.G. Farben in the interests of "peace and democracy." But from the very beginning the Allies disagreed over the fate of the I.G. Farben. The British and French favored a breakup of the company into large separate companies, while many U.S. officials advocated that the company be divided into smaller and therefore less influential firms. Negotiations over the cartel's fate lasted for several years. The French and British plan eventually prevailed.

After operating under Allied supervision from 1947 to 1952, the I.G. Farben was divided in 1952 into three large firms--Bayer, Hoechst, and BASF--and nine smaller firms. After this reorganization BASF was once again a small corporation located on its original Ludwigshafen site. Its share of the 30,000 I.G. Farben patents had been taken away; some of its trade secrets had been sold for as little as $1.00. It was isolated from its previous suppliers in Eastern Europe and, in fact, most of its basic supplies, such as coal, were insufficient. The 55 percent of its buildings that had not been destroyed were filled with outdated equipment. Leading BASF from its refounding until 1965 was Board Chairman Carl Wurster, who started at the company as a chemist.

West Germany, lacking money to import chemicals from abroad, was in dire need for chemicals produced at home. By 1957, BASF's sales of nitrogen and ammonia products were approaching their wartime levels. BASF initially lagged behind both Bayer and Hoechst in profits, in part because its product line included such items as fertilizers, plastics, and synthetics which were easily challenged on the market by competitors. Between 1957 and 1962 sales grew 59 percent, less than either Bayer or Hoechst. As prices for plastics and fertilizers stabilized in 1963, however, sales for the company increased 19 percent in one year.

BASF's growth during the postwar period was impressive. In the ten years after the dissolution of the I.G. Farben, the company increased its capital from DM 81 million to DM 200 million. Employing only 800 workers in the late 1940s, it employed 45,000 by 1963. Although BASF had lost all of its patents in 1952, within ten years it had recovered a large number of them.

Impressive Growth in the 1960s and 1970s

BASF began its second decade of independence from the I.G. Farben with a switch to oil as a base for most of its old, coal-based formulas. With the purchase of Rheinisch Olefinwerke, BASF added petroleum to the long list of raw materials it was able to provide. The company soon became the world's largest producer of plastic, and provided an astonishing 10 percent of the international requirement for synthetic fibers.

Despite these gains, BASF was still faced with problems. It was the possessor of the old I.G. Farben soda and nitrogen works, but these products were often in oversupply. BASF competed with other European producers who were not burdened with this product and who were situated in more petroleum-rich countries. Nevertheless, the company reached DM 1 billion in sales during 1965. Bernard Timm, the newly appointed board chairman with a background as a physicist, attributed the company's performance in 1965 to a judicious mix of plastics, farm chemicals, raw materials for coatings, dyes, and fibers.

In 1969, another significant year for the company, BASF purchased Wintershall, which had half of the German potash market and produced a quarter of the country's natural gas. This acquisition was the largest in German history, and with it BASF jumped over Bayer to become the nation's second largest chemical company. A large new plastics plant at Antwerp made PVC, polyethylene, and caprolactam (a nylon intermediary) at an accelerated rate.

Following the impressive growth of BASF during the 1960s, the 1970s started slowly. After much encouragement by the state of South Carolina in the United States to build a $200 million dye and plastics plant in an impoverished area near Hilton Head, the company's plans were thwarted by an unlikely coalition of outside agitators, local residents, and Southern gentry who feared damage to the beautiful Carolina coastline. In 1971 large investments in fibers and plastics were lost due to overcapacity. Synthetic fibers, whose prices were low in relation to the petroleum used in their manufacture, continued to plague BASF throughout the decade.

Despite the problems with fibers, however, the company continued to grow. The growth plan favored by Timm, who served as board chairman until 1974, and Matthias Seefelder, chairman from 1974 to 1983 and a chemist by trade, featured vertical integration, expansion abroad, and emphasis on consumer products. Of the three successors to the I.G. Farben, BASF was the one left with the least attractive product line.

In order to remedy this situation, BASF marketed its line of magnetic cassette tapes (a product it claims to have invented) and then ventured into videotapes. As for vertical integration, the company had ample access to raw materials and chose to modify existing raw materials rather than diversify into unfamiliar fields.

U.S. Expansion in the 1980s

Since there was little room to grow in Germany, the expansion into foreign markets was a cornerstone of BASF's strategy for growth. And the 1980s were a decade of significant growth for BASF in the United States. In order to avoid U.S. tariffs BASF formed numerous partnerships with American companies and acquired others. Wyandotte Chemicals Corporation of Wyandotte, Michigan, had been a major acquisition in 1969. The 1980s began with the purchase of Fritzsche Dodge and Olcott, Inc., the third largest U.S. producer of flavors and fragrances, not to mention Cook Industrial Coatings and Allegheny Ludlums. This last acquisition put BASF among the top 15 pigment manufacturers in the United States. The 1985 purchase of American Enka doubled BASF's fiber capacity. Although BASF's 1980s foreign ventures were by no means limited to the United States, its emphasis on U.S. expansion was understandable. At the time, the United States consumed one-third of the world's chemical production. The company's holdings in the United States also cushioned BASF against fluctuations in the value of the deutschemark and the dollar.

In 1986 the increasing importance of its U.S. operations was highlighted when BASF consolidated all North American operations under a new subsidiary called BASF Corporation. Within the entire BASF Group, the new company ranked second in size only to the flagship BASF AG, and generated 20 percent of overall group sales. Nearly all--90 percent--of the BASF Corporation's sales were generated from products it produced in North America.

The very year of its consolidation, BASF Corporation was in the news when the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Worker's Union decided to strike at a plant located in Geismar, Louisiana. Union allegations of unsafe working conditions prompted the U.S. Congress to investigate conditions at the plant. The union announced a campaign of negative publicity directed against the company. The strike surprised the management at BASF, which with the exception of World War II, generally treated workers well. Asked about the labor difficulties, a highly ranked BASF executive said, "We haven't had a strike since 1924, except a work stoppage in 1947 to protest our president being tried for war crimes." The strike--which evolved into a lockout--dragged on and on until it was finally settled with a union victory in 1989.

Transformation of BASF in the 1990s

After Hans Albers had served as board chairman from 1983 to 1990, he was succeeded by Jürgen F. Strube. The year 1990 was a fitting one for a change in leadership; it was the 125th anniversary of the company's founding, and represented the beginning of one of the most remarkable periods in BASF history, a period of furious activity--restructurings, acquisitions, divestments, joint ventures, and immense capital expenditures, all on a scale unprecedented in BASF history. Strube took over BASF after it had posted one of its strongest years ever in 1989, with sales of DM 46.16 billion and net income after taxes of DM 20.2 billion. Sales would then fall for each of the next four years, while net income fell for the next three. The levels of 1989 would not be surpassed until 1995.

The reasons for BASF's struggles were many: a cyclical downturn in the chemical industry in the early 1990s, to which the company was still highly vulnerable; a serious recession in Germany, brought on in part by the cost of German reunification; healthcare reform efforts in Europe, which led to the increasing use of generic drugs to contain costs, with BASF's proprietary drug sales suffering as a result; and the Common Agricultural Policy reform effort, which reduced the amount of farmed land and the amount of chemicals used in farming it, thus hurting the sale of BASF agricultural products. The German reunification also affected BASF in a more direct way when it took over--for nothing--Synthesewerk Schwarzheide, one of the largest chemical businesses in the former East Germany. BASF converted it into BASF Schwarzheide GmbH, but then had to spend DM 1.4 billion to modernize and expand its facilities.

Strube quickly responded to the crisis by initiating a serious cost-cutting program and by identifying businesses BASF should divest. Cost-cutting efforts included the closure of a number of plants and a gradual workforce reduction that saw BASF's employee numbers fall from a high of 136,990 in 1989 to 106,266 in 1994, a reduction of more than 22 percent. Divested operations were identified as businesses in which BASF was not competitive. These included the Auguste Victoria coal mine, which BASF had used to supply itself with coal since 1907, sold in 1990 to Ruhrkohle AG; the flavors and fragrances business of Fritzsche Dodge and Olcott, which was no longer viewed as a good fit; and the advanced materials division, which was not profitable enough to retain.

Strube also wanted to make BASF less susceptible to the cyclical downturns of the chemical industry by bolstering the company's noncyclical businesses. The company's consumer products area was beefed up with the 1991 acquisition of AGFA-Gevaert's magnetic tape operations, which were reorganized with BASF's existing magnetic tape business to form BASF Magnetics GmbH, producer of tapes, videocassettes, and diskettes. A more important and daring venture began in 1990 when Wintershall, BASF's oil and gas subsidiary, entered into an agreement with Gazprom--the world's largest natural gas producer, based in Russia--to build and operate pipelines for distributing Gazprom natural gas to the German market, directly challenging Ruhrgas, Germany's near-monopoly natural gas supplier. After committing itself to invest more than DM 4.5 billion over the next decade in what was described as the largest project in company history, BASF could boast of already attaining 10 percent market share in its first year of operation (1995), and aimed to reach 15 percent by 2000.

The natural gas venture was perceived by BASF as a long-term investment, as were the company's large expenditures in China. Although other countries were also targeted by BASF for significant investment in the 1990s--including Japan, Russia, India, Malaysia, and Korea--it was China that saw astounding expenditure levels. BASF's first plant in China opened in 1992 in Nanjing, a production facility for unsaturated polyester resins. By 1995 the company had committed DM 600 million to various Chinese ventures, including plants for making pigments, textile dyes, polystyrene, and vitamins, all through various joint ventures. In 1996 another joint venture was formed, this one to build a US$4-billion petrochemical facility, also in Nanjing, in what was the single biggest investment in China yet by a chemical company.

Meanwhile, acquisitions bolstered BASF's plastics operations. In 1992 the polystyrene-resins operation of Mobil was acquired for US$300 million. Then, two years later, BASF paid US$90 million for Imperial Chemical's polypropylene operations in Europe. Also in 1994, a new steamcracker plant located in Antwerp became operational after an outlay of DM 1.5 billion, the largest single capital expenditure in BASF history. Further moves in plastics came in 1996 when two joint ventures were formed, one with Hoechst in polypropylene and one with Shell in polyethylene. Because of German antitrust laws, these had to be set up as separate businesses, with joint venture partners allowed to have only limited control over their operations.

Early in 1994, BASF reached the important decision to retain its struggling pharmaceuticals business as a core business and to pour money into its growth. The next three years saw a flurry of activity in this area. In 1994 a new biotechnology and genetic engineering research center was opened by BASF Bioresearch Corporation in Worcester, Massachusetts, to develop drugs for fighting cancer and immune system diseases. BASF gained a foothold in generic drugs that same year by acquiring the German generic drugmaker Sagitta Arzneimittel, and by entering into a 50-50 joint venture with IVAX to market generic drugs. The following year BASF's Pharmaceuticals sector received a huge boost with the acquisition of Boots Pharmaceuticals, based in England, for US$1.3 billion. Boots was merged into BASF's existing drug operations, forming the new Knoll Pharmaceuticals.

Following the Boots acquisition, BASF created a new Health and Nutrition sector to highlight the importance of both pharmaceuticals and agricultural products to the company's future. Included in this sector were pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals (notably vitamins), crop protection agents (herbicides, fungicides, etc.), and fertilizers. In 1996, crop protection expanded when BASF paid US$780 million for the North American corn herbicides business of Sandoz, which was ordered divested as part of the merger of Sandoz and Ciba to form Novartis. Another joint venture was also initiated that year in an agreement with Lynx Therapeutics, based in California, to form BASF-Lynx Bioscience AG, for research in biotechnology and genetic engineering for the development of new pesticides and drugs. BASF planned to invest more than DM 100 million (US $66 million) in this venture, in which it held a 51 percent stake. Also in 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the antiobesity drug sibutramine--developed by Boots--from which the company expected annual worldwide sales of DM 800 million (US $525 million).

As part of the restructuring that created the Health and Nutrition sector, BASF in 1995 also created an Information Systems sector. This was short-lived, as magnetic tape products were identified as a non-core business and sold early in 1997 to KOHAP of Korea. Another non-core business was potash and in 1996 BASF's holding in Kali und Salz was sold to Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. Also in 1996, BASF purchased Zeneca's textile dye operations for US$208 million, making BASF third worldwide in textile dyes, trailing only DyStar (the merger of Bayer and Hoechst textile dye businesses) and Ciba's spinoff specialty Chemical division.

By 1997, BASF was operating five main sectors: Plastics and Fibers, Colorants and Finishing Products, Health and Nutrition, Chemicals, and Oil and Gas. The company had plans to spend more than DM 20 billion (US $13 billion) on acquisitions in the coming years, concentrating on businesses that will counter the cyclical chemical area--notably its Health and Nutrition sector--and on strengthening itself outside Europe. These goals were met by the following acquisitions: Punch Printing Inks, Ltd. (Ireland) and Schou Trykfarver A/S (Denmark); the U.S. surfactant businesses of Olin Corporation and PPG; and a portion of Dow Benelus N.V. (Terneuzen). In a joint venture, BASF acquired 50 percent holding of Hanwha Chemical Corporation in Korea. Another long-term goal was to set up a more streamlined structure in Europe (where the conglomerate had more than 100 separate companies), one similar to the integrated BASF Corporation in the United States. To this end, the following companies were consolidated: BASF Singapore (Pte.) Ltd.; BASF South Africa (Pty.) Ltd., Polioles S.A. de C.V., Wintershall Exploration (United Kingdom) Ltd. and Wintershall (United Kingdom) Ltd.

Developing markets in Southeast Asia and the Far East had been a goal of BASF since the 1980s. Through joint ventures with local partners, BASF opened the first production plants in China, at Shanghai and Nanjing, the location of an integrated petrochemical site, BASF's largest investment in China.

At the heart of the BASF's integrated-production strategy in North America was the construction of the world's largest steamcracker plant, begun in 1998 with PetroFina, in Port Arthur, Texas. The Port Arthur plant was one of the largest single investments made by BASF outside Europe; other steamcracker plants were located in Ludwigshafen (since 1965) and Antwerp, Belgium. The steamcracking process involves the "cracking" of naphtha by adding steam at a temperature of 800°C to form ethylene and propylene, used to make plastics, surface coatings, solvents, raw materials, crop protection agents, and vitamins.

Through joint ventures in 1998, BASF broadened their plant biotechnology operations with research sites in Germany, Sweden, the United States, and Canada. BASF Plant Science, a worldwide research platform, was founded with Svalöf Weibull, Sweden's seed producer.

Shell partnered with BASF in 1999 to establish one of the world's largest polyolefin manufacturing plants. Through a joint venture with European companies Montell, Elenac, and Targor, BAFS began manufacturing polyethylene and polypropylene. This paved the way for the creation of Bassell N.V. in 2000.

From the mid-1970s BASF expanded into pharmaceuticals through the acquisition of Knoll AG and Boots Pharmaceutical (United Kingdom). Although strengthening its presence in the North American market, its worldwide pharmaceutical business was sold to Abbott Laboratories, Inc. in late 2000, following settlement of legal action alleging "a conspiracy among vitamin manufacturers to fix prices, allocate markets and engage in other practices in violation of the Sherman Act and the antitrust, consumer protection and/or common laws of the various states" against BASF and other codefendants.

Record Sales in 2000 and Expanded E-Commerce Capabilities

In the first and second quarters of 2000, BASF achieved record sales. Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, Dr. Jürgen F. Strube, attributed this milestone to a strategy of continuous change, the strength of their integrated approach to manufacturing (Verbund), their global presence and spirit of innovation. To further enhance their global position, BASF took strategic positions in several ventures, including new Internet marketplaces for chemicals and thermoplastics. In February, BASF acquired a stake in ChemConnect, the leading U.S. online chemicals and plastics marketplace.

In June 2000, BASF shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the trading symbol BF. Another milestone was reached in the United States in July when BASF made its largest acquisition, American Home Products, a crop protection program. This acquisition made BASF the world's third largest supplier of agricultural products. The first Verbund site in Asia was opened as BASF Petronas Chemicals. The joint venture with the Malaysian state enterprise in Kauntan produced acrylic monomers. Other operations included the merger of its textile dye activities in DyStar as a result of a joint venture with Bayer and Hoechst. The end of 2000 recognized BASF as "number one among world chemical companies and among German businesses" in Fortune magazine's "Global Most Admired Companies."

Business Units Reorganized in 2001

BASF reorganized its core business units into five segments to optimize value-adding chains by bundling product groups. These business segments were Chemicals, Plastics and Fibers; Performance Products; Agricultural Products and Nutrition; and Oil and Gas. These segments were further divided into 12 operating divisions.

BASF's Chemical segment, comprising Inorganics, Petrochemicals, and Intermediates divisions, produced a range of products from basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals to specialty intermediates and related products. Based on sales in 2001, this division was one of the largest chemical producers in the world, meeting the needs of many industries, including chemical, construction, automotive, electrical, electronics, detergents, colorants, coatings, and health and nutrition industries.

The Plastics and Fibers segment produced not only plastics but also fiber products. Styrenic plastics, engineering and high-performance plastics, thermoplastics, foams, nylon fibers, nylon intermediates, and polyurethanes were products made for construction, packaging, automotive, household appliances, electrical and electronics, consumer products, textile, and carpet industries. To retain its large European market, BASF's Plastics and Fibers segment spent approximately EUR 146 million on research and development activities in 2001.

High-value chemicals such as surfactants, pigments, automotive and industrial coatings, dispersions, and adhesive raw materials were produced by the Performance Products segment. BASF also produced acrylic acid and its derivatives, as well as polymers, like superabsorbents, which were used to manufacture sanitary care products. These products were sold throughout the world in the automotive, paper, packaging, textile, sanitary care, construction, coatings, printing, and leather industries.

The Agricultural Products and Fine Chemicals divisions, functioning under the Agriculture Products and Nutrition segment, produced a variety of agricultural products, including herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. The Agricultural Products division was based in Mount Olive, New Jersey. Fine Chemicals produced in this segment included vitamins, carotenoids, pharmaceutical active ingredients; polymers for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and human nutrition, aroma chemicals UV filters, amino acids, and feed enzymes. This segment was previously named Health and Nutrition, prior to the 2001 selling of Abbot Laboratories, Inc. (United States).

Activities of the Oil and Gas segment, operated through BASF's subsidiary Wintershall AG and its corresponding subsidiaries and affiliates, included the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. Throughout Central and Eastern Europe, natural gas marketing, distribution, and trading were handled in partnership with Gazprom of Russia. Oil and Gas operations were conducted in North Africa, the Middle East, Germany, and Argentina.

In 2001 BASF began transacting business in Europe and the United States via Elemica, a company-neutral electronic marketplace, allowing electronic transactions supplying neopentyl glycol between BASF, The Dow Chemical Company, and DSM in The Netherlands. These transactions provided the necessary infrastructure to link BASF's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system with customers with suppliers. Another important e-commerce advance was WorldAccount, an integrated-global extranet platform for customer product information resources. In early 2002, BASF joined with Dell Computer Corporation, in the United States, to introduce a worldwide corporate PC standard in an effort to streamline company communications and business processes.

BASF continued to make important advances in pharmaceuticals in 2002 with the introduction of Kollicoat IR, a water-soluble tablet coating designed to improve tablet strength and protect active ingredients. With other brands launched previously, BASF remained one of the leading producers of pharmaceutical excipients and active ingredients.

At the release of the 2001 Annual Report, BASF Chairman Dr. Jürgen F. Strube stated that the goal of BASF remains to increase corporate value through growth and innovation in 2002. Based on restructuring and improving efficiency, BASF hoped in the future to generate significantly higher earnings from ongoing business with the same level of sales.

Principal Subsidiaries:BASF Antwerpen N.V. (Antwerp, Beligium); BASF Coatings AG (Münster-Hiltrup, Germany); BASF Corporation (New Jersey, USA); BASF Español S.A. (Tarragona, Spain); BASF S.A. (Säo Bernardo do Campo, Brazil); BASF Schwarzheide GmbH (Schwarzheide, Germany); Elastogran GmbH (Lemförde, Germany); Wintershall AG (Kassell, Germany).

Principal Divisions:Business Segments: Agricultural Products and Nutrition; Chemicals; Coatings; Functional Polymers; Oil and Gas; Performance Products; Plastics and Fibers; Operating Divisions: Agricultural Products; Fine Chemicals; Inorganics; Intermediates; Oil and Gas; Performance Chemicals; Performance Polymers; Petrochemicals; Polyurethanes; Styrenics; Regional Divisions: Africa; Asia; Europe; North America; Pacific Area; South America.

Principal Competitors:Bayer AG; The Dow Chemical Company; du Pont.





Further Reading:


  • Alperowicz, Natasha, "BASF to Idle Production in Europe," Chemical Week, November 21, 2001, pp. 15-16.
  • Alperowicz, Natasha, Lyn Tattum, and Emma Chynoweth, "Managing the Business Cycle at BASF: Gas Deal Provides Hope for Improving Results," Chemical Week, December 16, 1992, pp. 22-26.
  • Alperowicz, Natasha, Michael Roberts, and Debbie Jackson, "Domestic Pressures Turn the Screw on German Chemical Firms," Chemical Week, March 31, 1993, pp. 34-35.
  • Baker, John, "BASF Invests in Chinese Future," ECN-European Chemical News, October 7, 1996, p. 25.
  • "BASF AG," Mergent Industrial Manual, New York: Moody's Investor Service, 2001, pp. 912-916.
  • "BASF: Change, Focus, Speed," supplement to ECN-European Chemical News, November 1995.
  • "BASF Claims Top Spot among Investors in Korea," Chemical Marketing Reporter, September 23, 1996, p. 5.
  • BASF Milestones in Its History, Ludwigshafen, Germany: BASF Aktiengesellschaft, 1995.
  • "BASF Targets Acquisitions That Cut Cycles: The Company Also Wants to Structure European Business Like That of U.S.," Chemical Marketing Reporter, November 18, 1996, pp. 7, 41.
  • Chandler, Jr., Alfred D., "The Enduring Logic of Industrial Success," Harvard Business Review, March/April 1990, p. 130.
  • Gibson, Paul, "How the Germans Dominate the World Chemical Industry," Forbes, October 13, 1980, p. 155.
  • Hayes, Peter, Industry and Ideology: I.G. Farben in the Nazi Era, London: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
  • Layman, Patricia L., "For BASF, Big Is Still Better," Chemical and Engineering News, September 16, 1996, pp. 13-15, 18.
  • Milmo, Sean, "BASF, Lynx Form Biotech Collaboration," Chemical Marketing Reporter, October 28, 1996, p. 7.
  • "The Money Pit: Investing in Eastern Europe," Economist, June 22, 1991, pp. 74-75.
  • Reier, Sharon, "Hundred Years War: How BASF Allied Itself with the Russians to Battle Germany's Gas Monopoly," Financial World, September 14, 1993, pp. 28-30.
  • Richman, Louis S., "Hans Albers: BASF," Fortune, August 3, 1987, p. 50.
  • Schroter, Harm G., "The German Question, the Unification of Europe, and the European Market Strategies of Germany's Chemical and Electrical Industries, 1990-1992," Business History Review, Autumn 1993, p. 369.
  • Sheridan, Mike, "BASF Atofina Cracker Is Finally Up and Running," Chemical Marketing Reporter, February 18, 2002, p. 4.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 50. St. James Press, 2003.




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