Financial Collapse RSS

Nov 20, 2008

BASF to lay off 20,000 Workers


BASF, the world's leading chemical maker, said yesterday that it was slashing production at 180 plants as the global downturn reduces demand from key customers.


The Ludwigshafen-based company warned that slowing sales and order cancellations meant it would not match last year's earnings and the outlook for the coming year was difficult to predict.


BASF said it was temporarily shutting 80 plants worldwide and cutting production at another 100. Some 20,000 employees will be affected. BASF said the production cuts primarily applied to plants serving the automotive, construction and textile industries. BASF has two small plants in the UK, in Derbyshire and on Deeside. It was unclear yesterday if they would be affected.


J├╝rgen Hambrecht, chairman of BASF's executive board, said yesterday: "We already drew attention to the difficult economic situation at the end of October. Since then, customer demand in key markets has declined significantly. In particular, customers in the automotive industry have cancelled orders at short notice."


Hambrecht said customers were cutting inventories and finding credit harder to find. "In 2008 BASF will therefore not achieve the previous year's excellent EBIT [earnings before interest and tax] before special items. How the coming year will develop is difficult to foresee - BASF is preparing for tough times."


BASF said it had already begun to implement some cuts and the reductions were expected to last until January next year. It added: "Should the period of weak demand continue and if all the other flexible working-time models have been exhausted, the company cannot rule out the need for short-time working in individual sites worldwide."


BASF shares fell sharply in response to news of the cutbacks. However, Marcus Konstanti, a Sal Oppenheim analyst, said: "Hambrecht is doing the right thing to reduce capacity. The question is how things will develop after January. The destocking effect, coupled with lower demand volumes, makes business trends very hard to predict at the moment."




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