19 September 2011 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Most of the Europe-based chemical companies listed in our regional Top 10 enjoyed stellar performances in 2010, taking advantage of strong growth in emerging markets and rapid recovery in mature markets in Europe and the US.
Germany's BASF powered ahead to achieve a 26% hike in 2010 sales to $84.7bn (€60.1bn).
The company has spent 2011 digesting the €3.1bn acquisition of German personal care group Cognis. The acquisition will produce additional earnings for the group before interest and tax (EBIT) of €275m by 2015.
BASF also showed its commitment to its core European market by announcing plans to build the world's largest single-train toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) plant, in Antwerp, Belgium, or Ludwigshafen.
It is also powering ahead in Asia-Pacific, putting the bulk of its €2.3bn investment there during 2011-2015 in China. In May, BASF finally made progress with its strategy of getting out of styrenics. It formed the joint venture (JV) Styrolution with INEOS. This year also saw Jurgen Hambrecht replaced by Kurt Bock as chairman of the executive board.
Netherlands-headquartered LyondellBasell has performed strongly since its US operations emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010. Sales for that year rose by 33% to $41.2bn. The company made a profit of $10.2bn as it swung from a $2.9bn net loss the previous year. Since then, it has continued to post double-digit sales and profit increases.
In Europe, the company put its 105,000bbl/day oil refinery at Berre, France, on the market in May 2011 as it focuses on core petrochemical operations. The refinery could be worth $500m, analysts say.
Anglo-Dutch Shell off-loaded its Stanlow, UK, refinery in August. It was purchased by Mauritius-based Essar Energy, which also owns a refinery in India. The company is exiting a lot of oil refining in Europe which suffers from overcapacity and very low margins.
Shell is also planning a world-scale shale gas cracker in the US and has launched a biofuels JV.
One company worthy of mention but missing from this year's listing is Russian petrochemical group Sibur. In December 2010, Russia's Gazprombank agreed to sell a 50% stake in Sibur to Leonid Mikhelson, CEO of Russia's Novatek. the country's second-largest gas producer. He has an option to completely take over Sibur, which was valued at $7.5bn in December 2010.
The company also is off-loading non-core business as it focuses on advantaged petrochemical production. Sibur declined to divulge financial results as it restructures.
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