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BASF reports second-quarter beat, says no Delta impact so far

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FILE PHOTO: A cyclist rides past the entrance of a BASF plant in Schweizerhalle, Switzerland
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By Zuzanna Szymanska

(Reuters) -The world's largest chemical producer BASF reported a better-than-expected second-quarter net profit on Wednesday, saying the spread of Delta coronavirus variant has not interrupted orders from industrial customers so far.

Low commodity prices during the coronavirus pandemic weighed on BASF's earnings last year, but the German group recorded a rapid recovery so far in 2021 as the global economy picked up faster than expected.

"We recorded strong demand growth across all regions, especially Asia - without China - and Europe," BASF's Chief Executive Martin Brudermueller told journalists in a conference call.

When asked about the sustainability of BASF's progress at a time when the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant could hamper the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, Brudermueller said he did not expect a second large-scale lockdown.

"People around the world have learnt to combine business activity with a difficult economic environment. Everyone has also learnt a thing or two about how to manage a pandemic outbreak," he said.

Brudermueller added it was difficult to plan for more than two to three months ahead, but BASF's recovery - as seen in its order intakes - has been continuous so far.

Asked about the exact timing of the sale of BASF's oil and gas subsidiary Wintershall Dea, finance chief Hans-Ulrich Engel confirmed it will happen "after 2021."

"We are determined to divest Wintershall, but don't want to commit to a particular date," he said.

The German group reported a second-quarter net income of 1.7 billion euros ($2.01 billion), above the 1.4 billion euros expected on average by analysts in a company-provided poll, as it confirmed the preliminary quarterly core earnings and sales and 2021 guidance it announced on July 9.

($1 = 0.8463 euros)

(Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska in Gdansk; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Tomasz Janowski)