Overall Statement by the Executive Board on Underlying Conditions
Global economic performance in 2014 was impacted by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the associated sanctions imposed on Russia by the USA and EU. It was also affected by the situation in the Middle East and the slower-than-expected pace of economic recovery in Europe. Germany continued to be a center of stability in Europe during 2014. In China, annual growth is between 7 and 8 percent. The change of government in India had a positive impact on the country’s economic performance. The reforms announced there are expected to spur growth further.
WACKER’s business developed well in 2014, despite the geopolitical risks. There are several reasons for this. Our polysilicon business benefited from the agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) not to impose anti-dumping or anti-subsidy tariffs on WACKER’s polysilicon deliveries. In addition, year-on-year polysilicon price increases and the market’s continued growth bolstered our operations. In 2014, WACKER sold more polysilicon than ever before. Sales of semiconductors grew mainly due to the first-time full consolidation of Singapore-based Siltronic Silicon Wafer Pte. Ltd., a former joint venture. The three chemical divisions – WACKER SILICONES, WACKER POLYMERS and WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS – increased their sales in 2014 thanks to higher volumes. Except for VAM prices, pressure from WACKER’s main raw materials has eased further. Altogether, raw-material prices are slightly below the prior-year level.
In 2014, we increased sales in all our regions. The slight economic recovery in Europe enabled us to generate sales growth in 2014 after a decline a year earlier. Sales rose in the Americas, too. The biggest sales gain of over 11 percent was in Asia, where India is increasingly becoming a major market for our chemical products. At 42.3 percent, Asia again has the largest share in Group sales.
In the first few weeks of 2015, sales at each of our divisions were higher than in the prior year, thanks to higher volumes and due to exchange-rate fluctuations. WACKER got off to a good start in 2015.