In addition to innovations, investments make a decisive contribution toward achieving our ambitious growth goals. By investing in our plants, we create the conditions for the profitable growth we strive for while constantly improving the efficiency of our production processes. We use targeted acquisitions to supplement our organic growth.
With a world market share of more than 40%, China is today the largest chemical market and drives the growth of global chemical production. We expect China’s share to increase to around 50% by 2030. To continue to participate in this growth in Asia in the future, we plan to build an integrated Verbund site in Zhanjiang in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. Construction of the first plants started in 2020. We also plan to expand the site we operate together with our partner Sinopec in Nanjing, China.
In addition, we are refining our portfolio through acquisitions that promise above-average profitable growth as part of the BASF Verbund to help reach a relevant market position. A key consideration is that these are innovation-driven or offer a technological differentiation, and make new, sustainable business models possible. Investments and acquisitions alike are prepared by interdisciplinary teams and assessed using various criteria. In this way, we ensure that economic, environmental and social concerns are included in strategic decision-making.
Investments in property, plant and equipment amounted to €3,516 million in 2020 (2019: €3,839 million). Capex1 accounted for €2,878 million of this amount (2019: €3,349 million). Our investments in 2020 focused on the Chemicals, Materials, Surface Technologies and Nutrition & Care segments.
In Europe, construction continued for another production plant for vitamin A at the Ludwigshafen site in Germany. It is scheduled for startup in 2021. We are expanding the ethylene oxide complex in Antwerp, Belgium, and building production plants for battery materials in Schwarzheide, Germany, and their precursors in Harjavalta, Finland.
In North America, we continued the expansion of the MDI production in Geismar, Louisiana.
In Asia, we continued to drive forward construction of the new integrated Verbund site in Zhanjiang, China, in 2020. The first production facilities are scheduled for completion in 2022. We started up a plant for emissions catalysts in Shanghai, China.
1 Additions to property, plant and equipment excluding acquisitions, restoration obligations, IT investments and right-of-use assets arising from leases.
Capex by segment 2021–2025
Capex by region 2021–2025
Capex: selected projects
|Antwerp, Belgium||Capacity expansion: integrated ethylene oxide complex
Gradual capacity expansion: alkoxylates
|Geismar, Louisiana||Capacity expansion: MDI plant|
|Harjavalta, Finland, and Schwarzheide, Germany||Investment: battery materials|
|Ludwigshafen, Germany||Construction: production plant for vitamin A|
|Zhanjiang, China||Planned construction: Integrated Verbund site|
We are planning capital expenditures (additions to property, plant and equipment excluding acquisitions, IT investments, restoration obligations and right-of-use assets arising from leases) of around €3.6 billion for the BASF Group in 2021. For the period from 2021 to 2025, we have planned capex totaling €22.9 billion worldwide. The investment volume in the next five years will thus be below that of the planning period 2020 to 2024 (€23.6 billion). A focus area is our investment project in Zhanjiang, China, to expand our businesses in Asia.
We also look into opportunities to selectively acquire businesses or assets to strengthen distinct growth areas or segments. We added €559 million worth of property, plant and equipment through acquisitions in 2020. Additions to intangible assets including goodwill amounted to €691 million.
On January 31, 2020, BASF closed the acquisition of Solvay’s integrated polyamide business, which was agreed in September 2017. The acquisition broadens BASF’s polyamide capabilities with innovative and well-known products and enhances access to growth markets in Asia as well as in North and South America. Through the backward integration into the key raw material adiponitrile (ADN), BASF now has production plants along the entire value chain for polyamide 6.6. The transaction includes production sites in Germany, France, China, India, South Korea, Brazil and Mexico; research and development centers and technical consultation centers; and shares in Butachimie SNC and Alsachimie S.A.S. BASF acquired the polyamide business for a purchase price of €1.3 billion (on a cash and debt-free basis) and integrated it into the Performance Materials and Monomers divisions within the Materials segment.
On September 30, 2020, we closed the divestiture of our construction chemicals business to an affiliate of Lone Star, a global private equity firm, as agreed in December 2019. The purchase price on a cash and debt-free basis was €3.17 billion. The divested construction chemicals business had around 7,500 employees and operated production sites and sales offices in more than 60 countries. It generated sales of around €2.6 billion in 2019.
On August 29, 2019, we reached an agreement with DIC, Tokyo, Japan, on the acquisition of BASF’s global pigments business. The purchase price on a cash and debt-free basis is €1.15 billion. The assets and liabilities to be divested were reclassified to a disposal group in the Dispersions & Pigments division as of this date. The transaction is expected to close subject to the fulfillment of clearance conditions by DIC.
On May 20, 2021, BASF and Shanshan, a leading lithium-ion battery materials supplier serving both the e-mobility and the consumer electronics market, have agreed to form a BASF majority-owned joint venture (BASF: 51%; Shanshan: 49%) to produce cathode active materials and precursors in China. Closing of the transaction is targeted for later this summer following the approval of the relevant authorities.
Selected, closed transactions 2010 − May 2021
In recent years, market growth in China has been driven by increased domestic consumption, higher standards of living as well as more local value creation. With a world market share of more than 40%, China is the largest chemical market and drives the growth of global chemical production.
BASF is very well prepared to capture future growth in China. We have built an extensive network throughout the country. The following sites are the backbone of our activities in the region:
- Shanghai is home to our Greater China headquarters and the Innovation Campus as well as the Caojing production site.
- Nanjing is the location of our Verbund site in a joint venture with Sinopec as well as a wholly owned site.
- In Chongqing, we operate a wholly owned MDI production complex.
At the end of December 2020, BASF had 8,948 employees in Greater China and 27 production sites. During the last five years, we have generated strong earnings and healthy margins in Greater China. EBITDA before special items increased on average by 28% per year.
BASF’s volume growth outpaced Greater China’s chemical production
Strong earnings development of BASF in Greater China
1 Source: BASF, real chemical production excluding pharmaceuticals (base year 2015); as of February 2021
2 Restated figures due to reporting of construction chemicals as discontinued operation. Not included: BASF-YPC Company Limited as BASF’s share is accounted for at-equity
To continue to participate in the growth in Asia, BASF officially launched its smart Verbund project in Zhanjiang in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong in 2019. Subject to currency effects and planning uncertainties, we continue to expect an investment in Zhanjiang of around $10 billion until 2030. The implementation will happen in phases. The project will include a wholly owned steam cracker with an industrial cluster that will ensure the highly efficient use of resources in production, logistics and infrastructure. Construction of the first plants started in 2020. They will produce engineering plastics and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) to serve the increasing needs of various growth industries in the southern China market and throughout Asia. The startup of the first plant is expected for 2022 and the upstream plants are expected to begin operations around 2025.
Guangdong is home to fast-growing industries that are key customers for chemicals. For example, it is the province with the largest automotive production in China. Automotive, high-speed railway and aviation companies form a strong customer base. Many internationally active electronics producers also have their production facilities there. Chemistry has been recognized by Guangdong authorities as a driving force for numerous downstream industries, with BASF’s new integrated site contributing to the industrial transformation of the province. The new BASF Verbund site will benefit from Zhanjiang’s natural resources, deep-water port, excellent transportation links and engaged workforce, as well as its cultural heritage and commitment to sustainable development.
BASF is committed to building the Zhanjiang Verbund site as a model for sustainable production. The first plants will be 100% powered with renewable energy. Circular economy concepts will be incorporated into the new Verbund site to support customers in the region with sustainably produced solutions. As BASF’s first implementation of a fully digital smart Verbund concept in a large-scale project globally, the site will be built on the basis of cutting-edge technologies that maximize resource and energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact.