conglomerate conundrum

New BASF boss needs to find the right chemistry

main 40154857 Imago – BASF CEO Kurt Bock left deputy CEO Martin Brudermüller right 2011 chemicals Bayer DowDuPont LyondellBasell
Just don't mention my to-do list. Source: DPA

What do mattresses, electric car batteries, pesticides and Nivea face cream have in common? They contain materials produced by BASF, the world’s biggest chemicals company that wants to stay on top with products like these and hundreds more.

It is a sprawling range for a giant conglomerate, but Kurt Bock, the chief executive of BASF, said that while the current structure wasn’t chiseled in stone, there were no plans to change it anytime soon. “We have a model that works,” he said at an annual earnings conference on Tuesday.

The 59-year-old executive will resign in May and hand over to his deputy, Martin Brudermüller, who has worked at BASF for 30 years. Mr. Brudermüller, 56, is likely to continue the current strategy, given that Mr. Bock will take over as chairman in 2020, after a mandatory two-year cooling-off period.

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