By David Reed, UT EditorFlorham Park, New Jersey-BASF Corp has established a subsidiary for buying and trading key raw materials, such as benzene. It hopes the unit will be able to ensure supplies of the key materials at competitive prices and so avoid some of the margin pressures the firm has faced over the last year or more, the statement indicated. Called BASF Intertrade Corp, the unit will be headed by Paul Smiertka as director, finance and administration, with Christoph Grimm as manager, aromatics trading."By launching BIT Corp, we are placing ourselves on both sides of the market," said Richard Carter, senior vice president, procurement for BASF in North America, in a 24 Feb statement. "Ultimately, this will help ensure our ability to obtain benzene and other key raw materials at a competitive cost," he added.The new operation will be based in Houston, Texas, and is scheduled to be fully operational in the second quarter. BIT Corp will complement BASF Intertrade AG's activities in Europe and the Far East, providing BASF with global trading capabilities. The goal of BIT Corp will be to leverage BASF's global expertise to enable the company's chemical manufacturing operations to enhance their cost efficiencies, the statement concluded."