FRANKFURT (Reuters) - BASF, the world's largest chemicals maker by sales, said it was eager to expand in sub-Saharan Africa to fill a "blank spot" in its global presence, attracted by encouraging business conditions.
"We have set up subsidiaries in Kenya and Nigeria. Many things in Africa have changed for the better," BASF Chief Executive Kurt Bock told journalists late on Tuesday.
BASF, whose products range from solvents, coatings and catalytic converters to absorbents for diapers, makes about half a billion euros in sales in the region, just a fraction of the group's total of 72 billion euros, but "that can be considerably improved", he said.
Building materials such as insulation foam panels were the main products in demand.
"Many of our industrial customers are going there," he said.
The situation in North Africa, however, remained difficult as there were no signs that a labour dispute at oil terminals in Libya's ports will be resolved.
"The ports are closed and I can't give you an answer as to how long that will last," Bock said.
BASF's oil and gas unit Wintershall said earlier this month that strikes and protests at Libya's oil terminals halted onshore output there, making a forecast for the unit's 2013 output impossible.
The company was the second-largest foreign oil firm in Libya before Muammar Gaddafi was removed from power in 2011.