German chemicals group BASF is looking to exit its energy business Wintershall Dea with the preferred option being a stock market listing, reported Reuters.

BASF CEO Martin Brudermueller was cited by the news agency as saying that the chemical company is also looking for a potential sale of the oil and gas producer to investors.

In a speech to the company’s shareholder meeting, Brudermueller said: “The exit will not take place immediately.”

A potential sale of the energy business would require approval from joint venture partners and public authorities.

“But we are very optimistic that we will be able to execute this in the foreseeable future,” Brudermueller added.

BASF owns a 72.7% stake in Wintershall Dea, while Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s investment company LetterOne owns a 27.3% interest.

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The latest decision comes as BASF shareholding took a €6.5bn ($7.14bn) write-down as Wintershall Dea decided earlier this year to exit Russia in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

In Russia, Wintershall Dea owns a stake in the Nord Stream gas pipelines, a 35% stake in the Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field and stakes in two Achimov natural gas production projects in Siberia.

In a separate announcement, BASF posted net income of €1.56bn for the first quarter of 2023, up from €1.22bn in the same period a year ago.

The company noted that impairments on the shareholding in Wintershall Dea had burdened its net income in the prior-year quarter.