1990 - 1995
When the BASF Supervisory Board appointed 50-year-old Jürgen Strube as the new chairman of its Board of Executive Directors in mid-December 1989, this was not only the first time that a nonscientist had led the organization, it was also someone who had more international professional experience than any previous top executive at BASF.
Strube had recognized the enormous potential of the huge Chinese market early on. The chairman of the BASF Board of Executive Directors also realized that only by having its own local production sites could the company participate adequately in this regional growth.
After the project for an integrated production site in Nanjing had first been drawn as a bold vision on a paper napkin in 1994, Strube and his colleagues argued for the acceptance of the far-reaching plans among the BASF executives. In the end, this alternative meant either slowly approaching a dynamic market – or manage a feat of unprecedented proportions within a very short time. Strategic Planning argued for the feat. However, not putting all one’s eggs in one basket was something that Jürgen Strube and his predecessors heeded, and this also applied to the future heads of the company. This highest risk of all would also be eliminated for the China project.
BASF finally publicized its plans for the Verbund site in Nanjing on March 29, 1996 in the form of a press release titled “BASF, Sinopec and YPC launch a major project in China.” Strube estimated a construction start in 1998 and a construction period of six years.
While the Ludwigshafen headquarters were still asking for support for the investment plans on the Yangtze Kiang, BASF had already prepared plans for another major project in China. In December 1996, BASF announced that it would build a facility for the production of carpet fibers based on nylon 6 jointly with China Worldbest Group Corporation (CWGC) in Shanghai. The plant was put into operation in 1999.