The result compares to €778m a year ago, while sales also grew to €12.3bn from €10.5bn.

BASF, which acquired US chemicals company Engelhard for €3.8bn earlier this year, said all divisions in its performance products business contributed to a sales growth of 5%. But partial oversupply and rising raw materials costs led to a 23% dip in the business’ profits.

BASF’s operations include supplying pigments for paints and MDF, resins for wood coatings, dispersions for decorative paints, raw materials for parquet floor adhesives, timber preservatives and chemicals for wood glues.

“In view of the strong business performance in the first half of 2006, we remain optimistic for the full year,” said Dr Jürgen Hambrecht, chairman of the BASF board of executive directors.