A Basell spokesperson told MEED on 18 August that BASF and Shell are ‘pursuing two approaches’ to exit from the Netherlands-headquartered petrochemical firm, with the first involving a direct sale of the two shareholding companies’ 50 per cent stakes and the second calling for an initial public offering (IPO). Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB)and Lazardhave been appointed to assess the feasibility of each option.

A final decision on which approach will be pursued will be taken by year-end. BASF and Shell are aiming to conclude the transaction in the first half of 2005. Basell has manufacturing operations in 20 countries and employs about 6,700 people. The company’s turnover was Eur 5,700 million ($7,041 million) in 2003.

Sabic has made little secret of its intention to expand overseas through acquisition, in a drive to secure market share and technology. In 2002, it bought the Netherlands’ DSM Petrochemicals (MEED 5:7:02).