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BASF AG (ISIN: DE0005151005, LSE: BFA, NYSE: BF) is a German chemical company and the largest chemical company in the world. BASF originally stood for Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik (Baden Aniline and Soda Factory). Today, the four letters are a registered trademark and the company is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and Zurich Stock Exchange. The company delisted its ADR from the New York Stock Exchange in September 2007.
The BASF Group comprises more than 160 subsidiaries and joint ventures and operates more than 150 production sites in Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Africa. Its headquarters are located in Ludwigshafen am Rhein (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany). BASF has customers in over 200 countries and supplies products to a wide variety of industries. Despite its size and global presence BASF receives little public attention as it has abandoned consumer product lines in the 90s.
At the end of 2006, the company employed more than 95,000 people, with over 47,000 in Germany alone. In 2006, BASF posted sales of €52.6 billion and income from operations before special items of over €6.7 billion. The company is currently expanding its international activities with a particular focus on Asia. Between 1990 and 2005, the company invested €5.6 billion in Asia, for example in sites near Nanjing and Shanghai, China.
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72% of the BASF shares are held by institutional investors (AXA SA more than 5%, Allianz AG 2.6% and General Capital Group 2.1%). 45 % of the shares are held in Germany, 17.3 % in the UK and 13.5 % in the U.S.
BASF operates in a variety of markets. Its business is organized in the segments Chemicals, Plastics, Performance Products, Agricultural Products & Nutrition and Oil & Gas. The company occasionally advertises to the public. Its slogan is "The Chemical Company"
BASF produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries.
BASF is the international leading producer of styrenes. Engineering plastics are sold to injection molders in a variety of industries. BASF’s polyurethanes have very diverse uses worldwide.
BASF produces a range of performance chemicals, coatings and functional polymers. These include raw materials for detergents, textile and leather chemicals, pigments and raw materials for adhesives. Customers are the automotive, oil, paper, packaging, textile, sanitary products, detergents, construction materials, coatings, printing and leather industries.
Agricultural Products & Nutrition
BASF is a supplier of agricultural products and chemicals for agriculture and animal nutrition, and for the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industries. In the field of plant biotechnology, BASF is concentrating on solutions for effective agriculture, healthier nutrition and plants to make products more efficiently. Products from this segment include fungicides, herbicides, vitamins, pharmaceutical active ingredients and UV absorbers for sun creams.
Oil & Gas
BASF explores for and produces oil and gas through its subsidiary Wintershall Holding AG. In Central and Eastern Europe, Wintershall works with its Russian partner Gazprom.
BASFs recent success is characterized by a focus on creating resource efficient product lines after completely abandoning consumer products. This strategy was reflected in production by a re-focus towards integrated production sites. The largest such integrated production site is located in Ludwigshafen employing 33,000 people. Integrated production sites are characterized by co-location of a large number of individual production lines (producing a specific chemical), which share an interconnected material flow. Piping is used ubiquitously for volume materials. All production lines use common raw material sourcing and feed back waste resources, which can be used elsewhere (e.g. steam of various temperatures, sulfuric acid, carbon monoxide etc.). The economic incentive for this approach is high resource and energy efficiency of the overall process, reduced shipping cost and associated reduced risk of accidents. Due to the high cost of such an integrated production site it establishes a high entry barrier for competitors trying to enter the market for volume chemicals.
BASF was founded in Mannheim, Germany, by Friedrich Engelhorn in 1865 for the production of dyes. In 1867, research into synthesis of the dye indigo was successfully concluded. Until this time, indigo was extracted from plants and was expensive. Industrial production meant that the price could be cut drastically, and one effect was to make jeans affordable work clothes. The development of the Haber process from 1908 to 1912 made it possible to synthesize ammonia (commonly used in chemical and pyrotechnic warfare as well as some fertillizers), and in 1913 BASF started a new production plant in Oppau, adding fertilizers to its product range.
As a result of this monopoly, BASF was able to start operations at a new site in Leuna in 1916, where explosives were produced during the First World War. On September 21, 1921, an explosion occurred in Oppau, killing 565 people. This was the biggest catastrophe in German industry (see Oppau explosion). Under the leadership of Carl Bosch, BASF founded IG Farben together with Hoechst, Bayer and three other companies, thus losing its independence. BASF was the nominal survivor, as all shares were exchanged for BASF shares prior to the merger. Rubber, fuels and coatings were added to the product range. In 1935, IG Farben and AEG presented the magnetophone – the first tape recorder – at the Radio Exhibition in Berlin. Following the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor in 1933, IG Farben cooperated with the Nazi regime, profiting from guaranteed volumes and prices and from the slave labour provided by the government's concentration camps.
The Ludwigshafen site was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War and was subsequently rebuilt. The allies dissolved IG Farben in November 1945. On July 28 1948 an explosion in which 207 people died occurred in Ludwigshafen. In 1952, BASF was refounded under its own name. With the German economic miracle in the 1950s, BASF added synthetics such as nylon to its product range. BASF developed polystyrene in the 1930s and invented Styropor® in 1951.
In the 1960s, production abroad was expanded and plants were built in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, United Kingdom, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain and the United States. Following a change in corporate strategy in 1965, greater emphasis was placed on higher-value products such as coatings, pharmaceuticals, crop protection agents and fertilizers. Following the reunification of Germany, BASF acquired a site in Schwarzheide, eastern Germany, on October 25 1990.
On May 30 2006, BASF bought the Engelhard Corporation for 4.8 billion Dollars. This takeover is the largest takeover in the company's history. BASF is now the world's largest manufacturer of catalytic converters.
Other acquisitions in 2006 were the purchase of Johnson Polymer and the construction chemicals business of Degussa.
The acquisition of Johnson Polymer was completed on July 1, 2006. The purchase price was $470 million on a cash and debt-free basis. It provides BASF with a range of water-based resins that complements its portfolio of high solids and UV resins for the coatings and paints industry and will strengthen the company’s market presence, in particular in North America.
Also on July 1, 2006 the acquisition of the construction chemicals business of Degussa AG was completed. The purchase price for equity was just under €2.2 billion. In addition, the transaction was associated with debt of €0.5 billion.
There has been criticism from anti-biotechnology protest groups at BASF' plans for wanting to hold trials of GMO potatoes in the UK. 
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "BASF". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|