BASF cautiously optimistic going into 2014, says CEO Bock

22 November 2013 17:20 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--BASF is not seeing the good upswing in volumes and prices that might give it more confidence in economic growth, but the company is relatively optimistic about 2014, CEO Kurt Bock said on Friday.

“We are cautiously optimistic going into 2014,” he told journalists in London.

“We are still highly uncertain about the course and direction of the economy,” Bock said, commenting on the still sober assessment of the outlook it had given on release of its third quarter financial results on 25 October.

“Maybe in some countries the recession is behind us,” Bock said. But the company had faced a strong headwind on currency and overall an average price decline in the third quarter, he added.

Some recovery might be expected in Europe in 2014, Bock suggested, with continued growth in the US. BASF’s sales volumes in the third quarter were 6% higher than in the third quarter of 2012.

“At least in our case, in China we have seen quite good volume development in 2013 and we have no reason to believe that 2014 will be worse,” he added.

Longer term, BASF is convinced that the demands of a growing world population will drive chemicals growth. “I don’t think there are reasons to be concerned overall,” Bock said.

One growth area for the chemical company could be Africa, where BASF has re-entered markets in Nigeria and Kenya. “This [Africa] is a completely new frontier for chemicals,” Bock said.

BASF has a target to double the amount of business it does with Africa, albeit from a low base.

By Nigel Davis