South America, Africa, Middle East
At €4,386 million, sales for companies headquartered in South America, Africa, Middle East were 4% below the level of 2012. In local-currency terms, sales rose by 7%.
Chemical industry development in South America was weaker than we had expected. Sales declined slightly. Negative currency effects were only partially offset by higher volumes and prices. Demand rose particularly in the Agricultural Solutions segment; the Becker Underwood business acquired at the end of 2012 also contributed to sales growth.
Sales decreased considerably for companies in Africa, particularly on account of currency effects. By contrast, sales rose slightly in the Middle East. Increased volumes more than compensated for negative currency effects.
Income from operations before special items in the region improved by 5% to €387 million because of a higher contribution from the Oil & Gas segment in Argentina.
We devised a new growth strategy for South America and began its implementation. Aside from expanding our existing businesses, our focus is on the exploitation of additional growth potential through a stronger industry orientation and through innovations. Furthermore, investments such as the construction of a production complex for acrylic acid and superabsorbents in Camaçari, Brazil, will make an important contribution to our future growth. We will continue to increase our efficiency and optimize cost structures.
In South Africa, we opened a laboratory for mining chemicals in 2013 which allows us to offer technical services for mining customers throughout Africa.