Few people know that BASF, the world’s largest chemical company headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany, has been involved with the Greater China region since 1885. Back then, it started selling chemical dyes to Imperial China. Today BASF’s China offerings have grown beyond dyes to a diversified portfolio including petrochemicals, inorganics, polymer dispersions, polyurethanes, coatings, construction chemicals and crop protection products among other things.
BASF has become one of the largest foreign investors in the Chinese chemical industry, and it operates independently as well as through joint ventures. It has major investments in Shanghai, Nanjing and Chongqing. In 2005, it set up a $2.9 billion integrated petrochemical site in Nanjing, one of its six Verbund sites across the globe. BASF racked up sales of over EUR6.5 billion in 2011 in this region and it employs approximately 7,770 people.
Going forward, BASF sees a lot of potential in the China market. As Johnny Kwan, Chairman of BASF Greater China Country Board, puts it: “China today is already the number one market for chemistry and chemicals. For us, China is still only the third-largest market (after Germany and the US) so there is still some gap, and we have a very exciting challenge ahead of us.” BASF’s intent to develop its China operations further is already evident: in 2013 the company will unveil its Asia-Pacific Innovation Campus in Pudong.
In Part 1 of an interview with CKGSB Knowledge‘s Carol Wang, Kwan elaborates on BASF’s strategy for the Greater China operations and how the headquarters view the potential of China.