BASF Aims to Outpace Growth in Plastics Market by Boosting Asia Operations

BASF SE, the world’s biggest chemical company, said it plans to outpace the expected 5 percent annual growth in the global plastics market by boosting operations in Asia.

BASF’s plastics division will report higher sales and a “significant” improvement in earnings in 2010, board member Martin Brudermueller reiterated at a press conference in Frankenthal, Germany, today. Demand in Asia will grow at 6 percent a year through 2015, he said.

Brudermueller said BASF will continue to reduce overcapacity in standard plastics by shedding sites and activities. The German chemical maker, which is in the throes of divesting a styrene operation, is moving toward more specialty plastics that now account for one-half of plastic deliveries.

Sales at BASF’s plastics segment fell 22 percent last year, the second consecutive decline, weighed down by both lower volumes and a 15 percent slide in prices. Operating profit rose 2.7 percent to 554 million euros ($682 million), after collapsing by 54 percent the prior year.

Investment will be focused on the Asian region, Brudermueller said.

BASF supplies polyurethanes, soft and solid foams used as insulation material and for packaging, as well as polyamides, widely used for synthetic fibers such as nylon in the textiles industry.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at rweiss5@bloomberg.net.

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