In a favorable market environment, sales by companies in the region significantly exceeded the level of the previous year, increasing by 15% to €4,418 million. In local currency terms, sales were 19% higher than 2010.
In South America, sales rose in all segments. In the Agricultural Solutions segment, demand continued to increase for our innovative crop protection products. Our decorative paints business also developed successfully.
Sales by companies in Africa and the Middle East considerably exceeded the previous year’s level despite the difficult political conditions in some countries. In the Catalysts division in particular, sales increased significantly in Africa, thanks to strong demand from the automotive industry.
Income from operations increased by €294 million to €471 million due to our strong business in South America.
In November 2011, we began construction of the first production complex in South America for acrylic acid and superabsorbents, which will be located in the Brazilian state of Bahia. With an investment volume of more than €500 million, the construction of several world-scale plants for acrylic acid, butyl acrylate and superabsorbent polymers is the largest investment in BASF’s century-long history in South America. The goal of this investment is to secure the supply of important products in South America. These include superabsorbents for diapers and hygiene products, acrylic resins for coatings, textiles and adhesives and products for the construction industry. We also plan to start up the first plant for the production of 2-ethyl-hexyl acrylate in 2015 at the chemical complex in Guaratinguetá, Brazil, BASF’s largest site in South America. 2-ethyl-hexyl acrylate is an important raw material for the adhesives and coatings industries.
With our Africa strategy, we tap new long-term business potential. Along with our current activities in Northern and Southern Africa, we are now focusing on Eastern and Western Africa, as well: For example, we have expanded our business with crop protection products and enlarged our team. We aim to further expand our local presence in 2012. Our businesses with yield-increasing crop protection products, construction chemicals and ingredients for end consumer products all help to significantly boost sales in Africa.