BASF to Invest in Batteries to Break Japanese Market Grip

BASF SE (BAS), the world´s largest chemical maker, aims to invest more than 100 million euros ($122 million) in the development and distribution of battery materials, a market dominated by Asian manufacturers.

The German company aims to be among the top three global providers of materials for producing batteries and cells by 2020, Ralf Meixner, senior vice president for battery materials, told reporters at BASF headquarters in Ludwigshafen on July 10.

The company is staggering the investment over six years through 2016, Meixner said. Japanese companies are at the forefront of battery material production but their market is fragmented, according to Meixner. “In Japan, we expect a consolidation of companies as mid-sized firms will disappear,” he said.

Among battery material manufacturers in Japan, Osaka-based Stella Chemifa Corp. (4109), Asahi Kasei Corp. (3407) in Tokyo and Fukui-based Tanaka Chemical Corp. (4080) are the largest global providers of electrolytes, separators and cathodes respectively, Andy Bae of Pike Research LLC, said on the Pike Research Blog. Japanese companies hold an almost 80 percent market share of the global lithium-ion-battery market, according to Bae.

BASF has set up a new division for its battery activities and acquired Merck KGaA’s battery electrolyte activities, Novolyte Technologies, which makes electrolyte formulations for lithium-ion batteries and specialty chemicals, as well as Ovonic Battery Co. and Sion Power Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: Myriam Wecker in Frankfurt at mwecker2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Noel at anoel@bloomberg.net

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