For BASF, the world’s biggest chemicals group and Germany’s leading oil and gas producer, 2016 did not go quite as management and shareholders would have liked. The year began with oil prices plummeting to less than $30 per barrel and ended with a production stoppage at a brand new plant for TDI, an important precursor of plastic, after the plant was plagued by technical problems. And then a huge explosion at the group’s main production site in Ludwigshafen killed four people and brought the factory’s supply of some raw materials to a standstill.
Recalling the dramatic giant column of smoke hovering over Ludwigshafen, might lead some to call the year disastrous for BASF. Yet there’s not much disaster in the annual figures Chief Executive Kurt Bock presented to shareholders at the general meeting on Friday. Income remained stable and the group is financially strong. Shareholders are set to benefit from this with a slightly increased dividend of €3 ($3.26) per share.
Although the group’s sales dropped by one-fifth, its net profit was up 2 percent at €4.05 billion despite the slump in oil business, while operating profit was maintained at €6.3 billion thanks to capital gains. Adjusted for extraordinary effects, BASF contracted by a comparatively moderate 6 percent.