* Cuts 500 jobs, Basel area affected the most with 350 jobs
* BASF standardised products face low-cost competition
* Move comes on top of ongoing cost-cutting programme
* Shares turn positive (Adds background on previous restructuring steps, strategy)
FRANKFURT, April 23 (Reuters) - BASF, the world’s largest chemicals maker, will cut 500 jobs by 2015 at units including plastic additives and pigments to counter low cost competition from Asia.
BASF sites in the Basel area, most of which were added in its 2009 takeover of Swiss peer Ciba, will bear the brunt of the overhaul, with 350 jobs to go, the group said on Tuesday. Water, leather and textile chemicals businesses are also affected.
BASF is seeking to expand in highly specialised and high-margin chemicals, underpinned by recent acquisitions of nutritional supplements and crop protection companies.
Its more standardised products, in turn, are facing harsh competition from Asian low-cost suppliers, putting the German group under pressure to slash jobs.
BASF did not say how much money it aims to save with the move announced on Tuesday, which comes on top of an ongoing restructuring programme designed to boost earnings by 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) by the end of 2015.
BASF decided last month to combine its water solutions, oilfield and mining solutions businesses, slashing 215 jobs worldwide. Cutbacks at its construction business announced in October last year affect 400 jobs worldwide.
Shares in BASF turned positive and were up 0.8 percent at 66.59 euros by 0957 GMT. Germany’s blue-chip DAX index was up 0.6 percent.
$1 = 0.7674 euros Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Maria Sheahan