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BASF to invest $3.3bn in Asia, bolstering research staff

Chemical company looks to focus on materials for cars and electronics

Germany-based BASF intends to pour more resources into research and production in the Asia-Pacific region.   © AP

TOKYO -- German chemical company BASF will devote 2.7 billion euros ($3.33 billion) to the Asia-Pacific region through 2022, looking to strengthen its foothold in an area increasingly important both as a market and a development hub.

The region will account for about 15% of BASF's spending over the next five years, Sanjeev Gandhi, the board member in charge of Asia-Pacific operations, told Nikkei.

The chemical industry stands poised to enter the Asian era, Gandhi said. China ranks among the world's largest markets for chemical products, and the Asia-Pacific region represents a hot spot for R&D in cutting-edge fields such as electric vehicles. BASF, expecting the region to gain greater prominence in the medium term, is racing to expand production capacity as well as research facilities there.

The company plans to more than double its Asia-Pacific R&D personnel over the next three to five years, up from about 1,100 now, hiring researchers in Japan, mainland China, Taiwan, India and elsewhere. Asian R&D is currently concentrated largely in Shanghai. BASF aims to have 25% of its global R&D staff based in the Asia-Pacific, lifting the share from around 10% now.

R&D efforts will focus on materials for electronics and electrified-vehicle applications such as batteries, as well as other automotive products, according to Gandhi.

BASF, one of the world's largest chemical makers, logged sales of 64.47 billion euros in 2017. It boasts a broad product portfolio ranging from basic chemicals to functional materials. Having such a wide variety of products under one roof saves the company about 1 billion euros a year in costs such as transportation and energy, Gandhi said.

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