Not to be left behind by their American brethren, several large chemical and pharmaceutical companies in Germany are embracing business-to-business e-commerce with enterprise software giant SAP AG as their partner and technology enabler. In a joint venture, SAP and four large German industrial firms will establish an electronic marketplace for chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The new venture will take over responsibility for the continued development of the mySAP.com chemical and pharmaceutical marketplace announced last December. The scope will be expanded from indirect procurement to include technical services, direct procurement, and other services such as transportation and finance. The other companies participating in the venture are BASF AG, Degussa-Huls AG, Henkel KgaA, and Metallgesellschaft AG. SAP will participate through its newly created subsidiary, SAPMarkets, a dedicated e-marketplace firm. The industry-specific marketplace will be open to all buyers and sellers of all industries and regions. Its goal is to provide members with such benefits as aggregated buying power, reduced costs for product evaluation, and increased efficiency. "Our new marketplace offers suppliers the chance to reach a wider base of potential customers very efficiently," says Bernd Flickinger, president of BASF's Logistics and Information Services division. With sales of about $29 billion in 1998, BASF, one of the world's leading chemical firms, manufactures high-value chemicals, plastics, dyestuffs, dispersions, automobile and industrial coatings, pharmaceuticals, crude oil, and natural gas.