By David Reed, UT EditorLudwigshafen, Germany-BASF has invested over €21 million (almost $26 million) to set up a regional service centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for all its operations in Asia-Pacific . The firm is also currently building up a similar shared service centre for finances/accounts and human resources services across Europe in eastern Berlin, Germany.Both units are expected to be in operation by the end of the year and will replace services provided by more than 150 separate companies and joint ventures in the two regions, a 23 Aug statement from the firm indicated.The Malaysian centre, to be known as BASF Asia Pacific Service Centre Sdn Bhd, will provide support services in finance and accounting, information technology and systems, and human resources to BASF subsidiaries and affiliates in 15 countries in the region. BASF says it has 30 wholly owned subsidiaries and 23 joint ventures in Asia Pacific with over 9000 employees. In 2004, the company's sales in Asia Pacific amounted to €5300 million. Local production accounted for 57 percent of sales, it added. The regional service centre presently employs more than 130 staff, including over 100 Malaysians. When fully operational, by 2007, it will employ about 400, mostly local people. BASF will invest more than €500 000 in recruiting and training staff for this office, the statement indicated. The service centre in Malaysia will increase our flexibility and strengthen our overall competitiveness," said Andreas Kreimeyer, member of BASF's board of executive directors responsible for Asia. Malaysia was chosen as the location for our regional service centre due to the availability of skilled staff with business and language skills - most importantly Chinese, Korean and Japanese - and its stable and competitive economic environment." Congratulating BASF on the establishment of its regional service centre, Dato' Mah Siew Keong, Malaysia's deputy minister of international trade and industry, said, The services sector is expected to remain the largest contributor to Malaysia's GDP at 60.7 percent, and I am happy to witness yet another milestone for BASF - a strong supporter of Malaysia's growth in the region."The new European service centre in Berlin will create 500 to 600 new jobs, BASF said. It is due to start operations by the end of this year and will provide services that have up to now been administered on a local basis by more than 100 subsidiaries across Europe, BASF concluded. "