Two global chemicals and coatings giants have signaled their intent to exit the pharmaceuticals segment, as BASF AG announced a deal to sell its pharma operations to Abbott Laboratories, and DuPont said it will seek to divest its pharmaceuticals operations.

BASF, saying it plans to focus on its core chemicals businesses, announced an agreement to sell its pharmaceuticals operations to Abbott Laboratories of the United States for $6.9 billion.

The company, based in Ludwigshafen, Germany, said it expects the deal to be completed in the first quarter of 2001.

BASF executives said the sale is a “logical development,” based on the company’s conclusion that its pharmaceuticals business stands a greater chance of success if it is part of a “large, globally operating pharmaceuticals manufacturer.”

BASF’s pharmaceuticals business is expected to report sales of approximately 2.6 billion euros for 2000. BASF reported total sales of nearly $30 billion in 1999.

DuPont said it will seek to divest its pharmaceuticals business with a sale or spinoff, following a six-month review that concluded the business’s value can best be realized outside DuPont. The Wilmington, DE-based company has appointed the investment firm Morgan Stanley Dean Witter to advise it on the transaction.

Chairman and CEO Charles O. Holliday Jr. said the company will evaluate “all separation options, including an IPO [initial public offering], and will choose the one that can best contribute to our shareholder value objectives.”