BASF warns of earnings decline, cuts jobs in battle against costs

BASF warns of earnings decline, cuts jobs in battle against costs

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF said it would cut 2,600 jobs, halt share buybacks and hike investment to improve competitiveness as it warned of a further decline in earnings due to rising costs, said Reuters.

The German chemicals giant said in a statement that adjusted 2023 earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), would fall to between 4.8-5.4 billion euros (USD5.09-USD5.69 billion) from 6.9 billion euros in 2022, which was down 11.5% from 2021.

BASF, which in October laid out plans to cut annual non-production costs in Europe by 500 million euros, said on Friday this would lead to 2,600 job cuts, or about 2.3% of its global workforce, including about 1,800 job losses at its Ludwigshafen headquarters. It also announced plans to cut another 200 million euros in annual fixed production costs.

A 3 billion euro share buyback programme will be stopped after 1.4 billion euros was spent, due to "profound changes in the global economy", it added. "Europe's competitiveness is increasingly suffering from overregulation, slow and bureaucratic permitting processes, and in particular, high costs for most production input factors," said Chief Executive Martin Brudermueller.

Shares in the company slumped 6.6% to their lowest in almost two months at 1400 GMT, the worst performer on Germany's blue-chip DAX 30 index. BASF kept the 2022 dividend flat at 3.40 euros and did not commit to a longer-term increase. Finance chief Hans-Ulrich Engel said dividends would depend on future cash flows after investment.

"Uncertainty over dividends and a strong increase in investment expenditures are a burden on the share price," Arne Rautenberg, a portfolio manager at German mutual fund firm Union Investment, told Reuters. Investments, driven by an expansion in China and a global bet on automotive battery chemicals, would be 6.3 billion euros this year, up more than 50% from 2022, and rise further for a peak in 2024, BASF said.

BASF's job cuts, which are about 3.9% of its European workforce, come after carmaker Ford (F.N) last week said it would slash 3,800 roles in Europe. Hit by a product recall, Dutch medical device company Philips (PHG.AS) last month announced it would scrap 6,000 jobs.

BASF said it would strive to offer affected staff alternative positions. It has previously flagged the risk of major labour shortages as baby boomers retire in Germany. At the heart of BASF's soaring costs are European natural gas prices which rocketed last year after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Although European prices have eased to around 50 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) from last August's peak of more than 340 euros, they remain above historic averages.

We remind, Linde Engineering (Pullach, Germany) has signed an agreement with BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany) for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of a synthesis gas (syngas) plant in Zhanjiang, China.

Pemex Deer Park, Texas, small crude unit shut after fire

Pemex Deer Park, Texas, small crude unit shut after fire

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Three separate fires at Petroleos Mexicanos facilities on Thursday killed one worker, left at least eight people injured and several others missing, putting the Mexican state oil company’s safety record under scrutiny ahead of its earnings call on Monday, said Bloomberg.

Pemex said at least five people were missing and three were hospitalized after a fire broke out at a storage facility in Ixhuatlan, Veracruz. One of those workers died, Milenio reported in a video citing workers of the company.

Pemex also reported another blaze at the combined Maya unit of its 285,000-barrel-a-day Minatitlan refinery in Veracruz injured five workers. The same day, Pemex issued a community alert noting there was a fire at one of its units in the Deer Park refinery in Texas.

The fire at the Minatitlan refinery was controlled quickly, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a press conference Friday morning, while the fire at the Ixhuatlan storage facility is yet to be extinguished. “In the case of Ixhuatlan, it will take more time because it occurred at an oil deposit,” he said. The blast at Ixhuatlan sent huge clouds of smoke into the sky, pictures and videos on Twitter show.

While Pemex has said operations at its Minatitlan and Deer Park refineries are back to normal, the series of incidents has put Pemex’s environment, social and governance record under a spotlight during an already rocky start to the year for the company.

Pemex is under pressure to improve its oil production after it reported another year of declines and to boost refinery output to meet a nationalist goal of making Mexico self-sufficient in energy generation. The company has the most debt of any oil major, at USD105 billion by the end of September, and is searching for funds to repay about $8 billion in debt due this year.

Pemex’s safety issues have attracted international attention. In 2021, a huge gas explosion near its offshore oil platform — dubbed the “eye of fire”— sparked criticism from famed environmental activist Greta Thunberg and US Senator Bernie Sanders. Another offshore platform accident that year resulted in five deaths and Pemex was forced to cut output by a quarter.

We remind, Pemex's newest refinery, which is still under construction in Mexico's southeast, will begin to process crude oil in July 2023. The Olmeca refinery, the cornerstone of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's plan to make the country self-sufficient in gasoline and diesel, was originally slated to come on line early last year.
Meanwhile, the budget for the construction and other infrastructure needed to connect the refinery has more than doubled from an initial USD8 billion.

Evonik to launch two new wetting agents for WB Automotive & Woo

Evonik to launch two new wetting agents for WB Automotive & Woo

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Evonik's coating additives business line is launching two new wetting agents, TEGO Wet 290 and TEGO Wet 296, said Coatings.specialchem.

Both can be used for various substrates such as wood, plastic, and metal surfaces. The main areas of application are waterborne automotive and wood coatings.

The two wetting agents improve wetting and anti-cratering properties and enhance flow and leveling.

Due to their excellent flow and leveling properties, TEGO® Wet 290 and TEGO® Wet 296, are well suited for the automotive market, where the demand for glossy coatings with a unique color impression continues to grow.

Manufacturers of wood coatings benefit from the excellent wood pore wetting which brings out the structure of the substrate particularly well, which is very important to many end customers.

“As a truly global partner to our coating customers, we are constantly working to expand our offering, to meet the evolving market and customer needs”, said Maximilian Morin, head of the Industrial & Transportation Coatings market segment. “With our two new wetting agents, we are trying to help satisfy the appearance requirements for automotive and wood furniture coatings.”

The two additives differ mainly in their composition, TEGO® Wet 290 consists of 100 percent polyether-modified siloxane and is therefore particularly suitable for formulations with requirements of low volatile content.

TEGO® Wet 296 is a 52 percent solution of a polyether-modified siloxane in DPM (dipropyleneglycol-methyl-ether), which works well in low solids formulations such as waterborne automotive basecoats.

We remind, Evonik is pooling its expertise and integrating its alkoxides business into the Catalysts Business Line. The extensive portfolio of heterogeneous catalysts is thus now complemented by homogeneous catalysts. An international network of production sites and the highly experienced alkoxides team will additionally strengthen the Catalysts Business Line, one of Evonik's growth areas, from January 2023.

Repsol announces higher dividend

Repsol announces higher dividend

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Spanish energy company Repsol SA has posted higher profits in 4Q 2022 and reported a share repurchase and a capital reduction programme for 2023, said the company.

Net profit increased to EUR 1.03 bn in 4Q 2022 from EUR 560 M in 4Q 2021. Net income on an adjusted basis stood at EUR 2.01 bn.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization increased to EUR 2.95 bn from EUR 2.58 bn. Repsol earned EUR 4.25 bn for the whole year 2022 compared with EUR 2.50 bn for 2021.

Net debt stood at EUR 2.26 bn at end-2022. The company is to distribute dividends of EUR 0.70/share to shareholders, an 11% increase.

The Executive Board also plans to repurchase up to 35 M shares under a new repurchase scheme and to cancel treasury shares to decrease the capital by 50 M shares.

We remind, Repsol will nearly double the production capacity of its Reciclex recycled polyolefins with a new production line at its Puertollano Industrial Complex in Spain. The company will invest EUR 26 M to install a new 25,000 tonnes/y production line for polyolefins with mechanically recycled plastic content. Repsol currently has 16,000 tonnes/y of Reciclex polyolefins capacity.

Sika to sell three admixture production plants in Canada

Sika to sell three admixture production plants in Canada

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Competition Bureau has entered into a consent agreement with Sika AG to address competition concerns with its acquisition of MBCC Group, said the company.

A Bureau review concluded that the proposed transaction would likely lessen competition substantially in the supply of admixture systems in Canada. In particular, it would provide Sika AG with increased market power in Canada. This could lead to price increases for customers and/or decreases in other non-price aspects of competition, like innovation.

To resolve the Bureau’s concerns, Sika AG has agreed to sell certain MBCC Group assets to a single independent purchaser to be approved by the Commissioner of Competition. Under the terms of the agreement, these include: 3 admixture production plants in Canada, located in Nisku, Alberta; Brampton, Ontario; and Saint-Leonard (Montreal), Quebec; 10 admixture production plants and a research and development centre in Beachwood, Ohio, in the United States; and a global research and development centre in Trostberg, Germany.

The Commissioner is satisfied that the sale of MBCC Group’s admixture systems businesses in Canada and the US and the research and development centre in Germany will resolve the competitive issues arising from the proposed transaction in Canada.

As part of a broader international remedy, Sika AG will also sell MBCC Group’s admixture systems businesses in Europe (EEA, UK and Switzerland), and MBCC Group’s admixture systems and construction systems businesses in Australia and New Zealand. Throughout its review the Bureau’s officers were in communication with international counterparts, including the European Commission, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, the United States DOJ, the New Zealand Commerce Commission and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

We remind, Sika has agreed to sell Aliva Equipment, a Swiss unit supplying machines for the application of shotcrete, to Normet Group Oy, a Finnish global company providing solutions for underground construction, said the company.
In 2021, Aliva Equipment generated sales of CHF 12 million.

Sika is a specialty chemicals company with a leading position in the development and production of systems and products for bonding, sealing, damping, reinforcing, and protecting in the building sector and motor vehicle industry. Sika has subsidiaries in 101 countries around the world and manufactures in over 200 factories.