Financial opportunities and risks

The management of liquidity, currency and interest rate risks is conducted in the Treasury unit. The management of commodity price risks takes place in the Procurement competence center or in the appropriately authorized Group companies. Detailed guidelines and procedures exist for dealing with financial risks. Among other things, they provide for the segregation of trading and back office functions.

Exchange rate volatility

  • Opportunities and risks especially from U.S. dollar exchange rate fluctuations

Our competitiveness on global markets is influenced by fluctuations in exchange rates. For BASF’s purchasing, opportunities and risks arise in particular when the U.S. dollar exchange rate fluctuates. A full-year rise in the value of the U.S. dollar/euro exchange rate by $0.01 would result in an increase of around €40 million in BASF’s EBIT, assuming other conditions remain the same. On the production side, we mitigate foreign currency risks by having production sites in the respective currency zones.

Financial currency risks result from the translation of receivables, liabilities and other monetary items in accordance with IAS 21 at the closing rate into the functional currency of the respective Group company. In addition, we incorporate planned purchase and sales transactions in foreign currencies in our financial foreign currency risk management. These risks are hedged using derivative instruments, if necessary.

Interest rate risks

  • Market interest rates and credit risk premiums to be paid have major impact on financing costs

Interest rate risks result from potential changes in prevailing market interest rates. These can cause a change in the present value of fixed-rate instruments and fluctuations in the interest payments for variable-rate instruments, which would positively or negatively affect earnings. To hedge these risks, interest rate swaps and combined interest rate and currency derivatives are used in individual cases.

In addition to market interest rates, BASF’s financing costs are determined by the credit risk premiums to be paid. These are mainly influenced by our credit rating and the market conditions at the time of issue. In the short to medium term, BASF is largely protected from the possible effects on its interest result thanks to the well-balanced maturity profile of its financial indebtedness.

Risks from metal and raw material trading

In the catalysts business, BASF employs commodity derivatives for precious metals and trades precious metals on behalf of third parties and on its own account. In addition, we use our knowledge of the markets for crude oil and oil products to generate earnings from the trade of raw materials. To address specific risks associated with these trades, which are not part of our operating business, we set and continuously monitor limits with regard to the type and size of the deals concluded.

Liquidity risks

Risks from fluctuating cash flows are recognized in a timely manner as part of our liquidity planning. We have access to extensive liquidity at any time thanks to our good ratings, our unrestricted access to the commercial paper market and committed bank credit lines. In the short to medium term, BASF is largely protected against potential refinancing risks by a balanced maturity profile for financial indebtedness as well as through diversification in various financial markets.

Risk of asset losses

We limit country-specific risks with measures based on internally determined country ratings, which are continuously updated to reflect changing environment conditions. We selectively use export credit insurance and investment guarantees to limit specific country-related risks. We lower credit risks for our financial investments by engaging in transactions only with banks with good credit ratings and by adhering to fixed limits. The credit ratings are continuously monitored and the limits are adjusted accordingly. We reduce the risk of default on receivables by continuously monitoring the creditworthiness and payment behavior of our customers and by setting appropriate credit limits. Due to the global activities and diversified customer structure of the BASF Group, there are no major concentrations of credit default risk. Risks are also limited through the use of credit insurance and bank guarantees.

Impairment risks

The risk of an asset impairment occurs if the assumed interest rate in an impairment test increases or the predicted cash flows decline. In the current business environment, we consider the risk of impairment of individual assets such as customer relationships, technologies and brands, as well as goodwill, to be nonmaterial. Nevertheless, a continuing decline in the price of oil below our assumed planning level would result in impairment risks for the Oil & Gas segment’s assets, especially the recently acquired fields measured at fair value.

Long-term incentive program for senior executives

Our executives have the opportunity to participate in a share-price-based compensation program. The need for provisions for this program varies according to the development of the BASF share price and the MSCI World Chemicals Index; this leads to a corresponding increase or decrease in personnel costs.

Risks from pension obligations

Most employees are granted company pension benefits from either defined contribution or defined benefit plans. We predominantly finance company pension obligations externally through separate plan assets. This particularly includes BASF Pensionskasse VVaG and BASF Pensionstreuhand e.V. in Germany, in addition to the large pension plans of our Group companies in North America, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. To address the risk of underfunding due to market-related fluctuations in plan assets, we have investment strategies that align return and risk optimization to the structure of the pension obligations. Stress scenarios are also simulated regularly by means of portfolio analyses. An adjustment to the interest rates used in discounting pension obligations leads immediately to changes in equity. To limit the risks of changing financial market conditions as well as demographic developments, employees have been almost exclusively offered defined contribution plans for future years of service in recent years.