Business development in the regions in the third quarterSales at companies located in Europe grew by 3% compared with the previous third quarter. This was mainly because of the considerably higher volumes in the Natural Gas Trading business sector; sales volumes in the Chemicals and Agricultural Solutions segments declined. Sales and volumes increased considerably in the Catalysts division. In the Petrochemicals division, lower plant availability dampened sales. EBIT before special items rose by €202 million to €1.1 billion, primarily due to considerably improved contributions from Chemicals, Oil & Gas, and Other.
In North America, sales rose by 3% in both U.S. dollars and euros. This was mainly attributable to volume and price-related sales growth in the Petrochemicals division. At €342 million, earnings decreased slightly, due in part to a considerably lower contribution from Agricultural Solutions (third quarter of 2013: €355 million).
Sales in Asia Pacific increased by 4% in both local-currency and euro terms, predominantly on account of higher volumes, especially in the Catalysts and Performance Chemicals divisions. Slightly declining sales prices and negative currency effects weakened sales growth in the region. At €173 million, earnings were €33 million below the level of the third quarter of 2013. This was largely the result of considerably lower earnings from basic products in the Chemicals segment.
In South America, Africa, Middle East, sales grew by 8% in local-currency terms and 4% in euro terms. Negative currency effects could be more than compensated for, mainly through higher prices. Particularly in the Oil & Gas segment, price increases led to a considerable rise in sales. Sales volumes improved considerably in the business with crop protection products in the third quarter. Earnings declined slightly, dipping €6 million to €197 million. In the Agricultural Solutions segment, earnings fell considerably as a consequence of weaker margins and strong competition from generic insecticides.