BASF warns on raw material costs amid Ukraine war and China lockdown

·2-min read
BASF pledged on Thursday to wind down its remaining business operations in Russia and Belarus by early July. Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty
BASF pledged on Thursday to wind down its remaining business operations in Russia and Belarus by early July. Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty

German chemical group BASF (BAS.DE) warned it could be hit by the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and counter measures in China to curb rising coronavirus infections.

However, the world's biggest petrochemical firm's margins jumped as it benefitted from passing soaring raw material costs to industrial customers.

BASF said its basic chemicals businesses, which produce substances that go into a wide range of industrial products, increased prices to mitigate higher energy and raw materials costs, helping bolster company earnings even amid lower delivery volumes.

"The market environment continues to be dominated by an exceptionally high level of uncertainty," the company said on Friday. "Risks may arise from further increases in raw materials prices and new sanctions against Russia, such as a natural gas embargo, or restricted gas supplies from Russia as a result of counter-sanctions."

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The group, which released unscheduled preliminary first-quarter earnings this month, said it was still targeting earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) adjusted for special items of between €6.6bn ($7bn, £5.5bn) and €7.2bn, down from €7.8bn the year before.

Operating income surged 21%, beating market expectations.

BASF shares fell 0.9% in afternoon trade on Friday in Germany following the announcement.

It comes after BASF pledged on Thursday to wind down its remaining business operations in Russia and Belarus by early July, excluding products for food production, amid the Ukraine conflict.

It also said it has given up efforts to separately list its oil and gas business Wintershall Dea via an initial public offering (IPO) for now due to the joint-venture's exposure in Russia.

"We want to list the company on the stock exchange. Wintershall Dea has interests in production facilities in Russia," CEO Martin Brudermueller told shareholders in the group's annual meeting on Friday. "This makes an IPO difficult at this time."

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The announcement marks a U-turn from February, when BASF said it was prepared to push through an IPO even as markets were roiled by the Kremlin's attack on Ukraine.

Wintershall is co-owned by LetterOne, a holding firm that was controlled by Russian investor Mikhail Fridman, who quit the role March after being sanctioned by the European Union.

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