BASF AG is a German chemical company. BASF originally stood for Badische Anilin- & Soda–Fabrik (Baden Aniline and Soda Manufacturing). Today, the four letters are a registered trademark. The BASF Group comprises more than 160 subsidiaries and joint ventures and operates production sites in 41 countries in Europe, Asia, North America and South America. Its headquarters are located in Ludwigshafen am Rhein (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany). At the end of 2003, the company employed more than 87,000 people, with over 48,000 in Germany alone. BASF has customers in over 170 countries and supplies about 8,000 products to a wide variety of industries. In 2003, BASF posted sales of 33.4 billion and income from operations before special items of almost €3 billion. The company is currently expanding its international activities with a particular focus on Asia. Between 1990 and 2005, the company will invest €5.6 billion in Asia, for example in sites near Nanjing and Shanghai, China.


Business segments

BASF operates in a variety of markets. Its business is organized in the segments Chemicals, Plastics, Performance Products, Agricultural Products & Nutrition and Oil & Gas.


BASF produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries.


BASF is the international leading producer of styrenics. Engineering plastics are sold to injection molders in a variety of industries. BASF’s polyurethanes have very diverse uses worldwide.

Performance Products

BASF produces a range of performance chemicals, coatings und functional polymers. These include raw materials for detergents, textile and leather chemicals, pigments and raw materials for adhesives. Customers are the automotive, oil, paper, packaging, textile, sanitary products, detergents, construction materials, coatings, printing and leather industries.

Agricultural Products & Nutrition

BASF is a supplier of agricultural products and fine chemicals for agriculture and animal nutrition, and for the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industries. In the field of plant biotechnology, BASF is concentrating on solutions for effective agriculture, healthier nutrition and plants to make products more efficiently. Products from this segment include fungicides, pesticides, herbicides, vitamins, pharmaceutical active ingredients and UV absorbers for sun creams.

Oil & Gas

BASF explores for and produces oil and gas through its subsidiary Wintershall AG. In Central and Eastern Europe, Wintershall works with its Russian partner Gazprom.

BASF history

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BASF in Ludwigshafen

BASF was founded in Mannheim, Germany, by Friedrich Engelhorn in 1865 for the production of dyes. In 1867, research into synthesis of the dye indigo was successfully concluded. Until this time, indigo was extracted from plants and was expensive. Industrial production meant that the price could be cut drastically, and one effect was to make jeans affordable work clothes. The development of the Haber-Bosch process from 1908 to 1912 made it possible to synthesize ammonia, and in 1913 BASF started a new production plant in Oppau, adding fertilizers to its product range.

As a result of this monopoly, BASF was able to start operations at a new site in Leuna in 1916, where explosives were produced during the First World War. On September 21, 1921, an explosion occurred in Oppau, killing 565 people. This was the biggest catastrophe in German industry. Under the leadership of Carl Bosch, BASF founded IG Farben together with Hoechst, Bayer and three other companies, thus losing its independence. Rubber, fuels and coatings were added to the product range. In 1935, the BASF and AEG presented the magnetophone – the first tape recorder – at the Radio Exhibition in Berlin. Following the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor in 1933, IG Farben cooperated with the Nazi regime, profiting from guaranteed volumes and prices and from the forced laborers provided by the government.

The Ludwigshafen site was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War and was subsequently rebuilt. The allies dissolved IG Farben in November 1945. On July 28, 1948 an explosion in which 207 people died occurred in Ludwigshafen. In 1952, BASF was refounded under its own name. With the German economic miracle in the 1950s, BASF added synthetics such as nylon to its product range. BASF developed polystyrene (Styropor®) in 1951.

In the 1960s, the production abroad was expanded and plants were built in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, United Kingdom, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain and the United States. Following a change in corporate strategy in 1965, greater emphasis was placed on higher-value products such as coatings, pharmaceuticals, crop protection agents and fertilizers. Following the reunification of Germany, BASF acquired a site in Schwarzheide, eastern Germany, on October 25, 1990.

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