BASF says Iran investment in limbo amid uncertainty over sanctions

Kurt Bock, CEO of German chemical company BASF, speaks during an event marking the company's 150th anniversary in Ludwigshafen, April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - BASF said it was in talks with Iran over a possible investment of its oil and gas division in the country but no decision was on the cards because of uncertainty over the status of economic sanctions.

“We can’t see that the lifting of sanctions is being implemented at the speed that was initially expected,” BASF Chief Executive Kurt Bock told a news conference after the release of 2016 earnings.

“We are trying to assess whether it’s possible for our oil and gas business to gain a foothold in Iran. We have been invited by the national authorities. The evaluation process is ongoing,” he said, adding the outcome was uncertain.

He specified that such talks were limited to investments in oil and gas exploration and production and did not extend to downstream petrochemical processing plants.

The CEO also said he still saw no necessity for the chemicals group overall to pursue any “transformational” takeover deals, even as peers Bayer and Monsanto as well as Dow and DuPont are merging.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Maria Sheahan