LONDON – British and German companies have signed a £4.4bn deal to buy chemical plants in the UK, in what could prove a pivotal moment for the UK’s chemical industry.
The deal, expected to be completed by the end of the year, will see companies including EDF and BASF take over a combined £500m of UK land and infrastructure.
It is the latest sign of a global push to buy the UK-based UK’s industrial plants, as the country faces a surge in the number of new chemicals needed to power Britain’s economy.
Efforts to buy chemicals have been underway for years, and British companies have been the driving force behind a major plan to bring them online.
It has been hoped that the UK would be one of the first European countries to join the global market for new chemicals.
But with more than half of all EU countries planning to increase production by 2020, the country is expected to lag behind other countries in its pursuit of new technologies.BASF, a global chemical company, is among a number of firms vying to take over British land, building a new £600m plant at Cottesmore, in Wiltshire.
The acquisition of land by British firms, in an area where the government is already planning to spend £500 million on new facilities, is likely to accelerate the timetable for the creation of a UK-wide industrial base for chemicals.
The government said in a statement that it had signed the deal to take control of “critical assets” in the area and “ensure our industry is competitive and that it can deliver for the British people”.
A BASF spokesperson said: “This is a significant step in the right direction and will give us the flexibility to take advantage of the best technology in the world, including the most advanced manufacturing processes.”BASf, the world’s biggest chemical company and owner of BASF-branded chemicals, said it was confident that the land acquisition will help ensure that the plant is able to compete globally.
“The agreement will allow us to expand our business into areas where our existing plant capacity is not available, and we are delighted to be able to provide new capital to support our expansion,” the spokesperson added.
Bryan Balfour, head of BASf’s UK operations, said the new plant will “enable us to meet our ambitious industrial strategy for the next 10 years”.
Balfour said: “”This is about building the UK as a global centre of excellence for chemical and biotechnology innovation, and I am confident it will help us continue to drive these forward in the long term.