Top of the heap in a tumultuous year


Once again, we are pleased to present the ICIS Top 100 Chemical Companies, ranked by 2008 sales. The results, spanning the global chemical industry, reflect a strong start to the year, followed by a collapse in the third and fourth quarters, triggered by the widespread financial and economic crisis that began in the US.

German major BASF led the pack, as it did in 2007, with $87.8bn in sales in 2008, while US-based ExxonMobil eclipsed Dow Chemical for the number two spot with $58.1bn in sales versus Dow’s $57.5bn – third in the rankings.

The crisis certainly made its mark on the 2008 figures, most notably on net profit. For the sake of comparison, this time we included both 2008 and 2007 stats for both operating and net profit rather than percentage changes – just because there were so many companies in the red.

Out of the ICIS Top 100 Companies, 23 posted net losses in 2008. Overall profits tumbled 53% year on year for the group.

The crisis continues to hit the chemical market, and 2009 will likely show further earnings declines.

But the last throes of the M&A upcycle with multibillion dollar deals announced in 2008 that closed in 2009 will propel Dow Chemical upwards again, following its acquisition of US specialty chemicals giant Rohm and Haas. BASF will further pad its leading spot with its buyout of Swiss specialty firm Ciba.

While big deals like this have been put on ice, an M&A recovery could well be in the making as confidence returns and the financing market slowly recovers.

A big thanks to Lara McNamee and the ICIS data & analytics team led by Paul Ray for putting together the ICIS Top 100 rankings.

You can download a PDF of the ICIS Top 100 table on ICIS connect at

We are also delighted to launch the ICIS Education & Recruitment Campaign. Led by Andy Brice, this campaign is aimed at highlighting the challenges as well as the industry’s efforts in fostering interest in joining the chemical industry among students.

It is a critical issue vital to the future of our industry, and we truly appreciate the public support of so many distinguished industry organizations, including the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA), European Association of Chemical Distributors (FECC), National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF), Chemical Educational Foundation (CEF), National Skills Academy, Chemical Business Association (CBA), Association of Petrochemicals Producers in Europe (APPE), Societe de Chimie Industrielle and Singapore Chemical Industry Council (SCIC).

We welcome you to check out the ICIS Education & Recruitment Blog and send us your comments!

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