Proposed dividend of €3.10BASF will propose to the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting a dividend of €3.10 per share, €0.10 higher than in the previous year. The BASF share would thus once more offer an attractive dividend yield of 3.4% based on the 2017 year-end share price of €91.74. In total, €2.8 billion would be paid out to BASF SE shareholders.Business development in the regionsWith regard to the development in the regions, Bock said: “We were particularly pleased with our strong growth in Asia, where our investments in recent years have paid off. Thanks to higher margins and increased volumes, we were able to double our earnings in Asia to €2.2 billion, making it the most profitable region for BASF.”
In Europe, economic growth gathered steam. EBIT here grew by 31% to reach €4.7 billion. This was chiefly attributable to higher earnings in the Chemicals and Oil & Gas segments. Although growth in the United States was initially subdued at the beginning of 2017, it improved over the course of the year. In North America, BASF increased EBIT from €1.1 billion to €1.2 billion. BASF’s EBIT in South America, Africa and the Middle East fell from €432 million to €335 million.
Development of BASF’s portfolioIn the past year BASF made important decisions to add fast-growing, cyclically resilient businesses to its portfolio. In 2018, the Agricultural Solutions segment will be strengthened with the acquisition of significant parts of Bayer’s seed and herbicide businesses. Bock: “These will be an excellent complement to our well-established and successful crop protection business and our biotechnology activities. And we will be entering into the seed business with proprietary assets in key agricultural markets, which will also allow us to more quickly implement the results of our seed research.”
BASF wants to acquire Solvay’s global polyamide business this year. This will expand BASF’s range of engineering plastics for the transportation, construction and consumer goods industries and will strengthen its access to raw materials. Furthermore, the company expects to improve access to important growth markets in Asia and South America.
“However, we also divest businesses when we believe they could be more successful in a different constellation,” said Bock. For example, BASF transferred its business with leather chemicals to the Stahl group, a leading producer of process chemicals for leather products, at the end of September 2017. In return, BASF now holds a 16% share in the Stahl group.
BASF has announced fundamental changes for its oil and gas activities. It is planned that BASF and the LetterOne group will merge their respective oil and gas activities in a joint venture called Wintershall DEA. The new company would be one of the largest independent exploration and production companies in Europe, with excellent growth prospects. In the medium term, the intent is to list the joint venture on the stock exchange.