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Business deals

Daikin to buy European refrigerator maker in $885m deal

Japanese air conditioning company taps AHT Cooling's global customer base

Daikin aims to cultivate refrigerators into a key operation as the market for air conditioners matures in developed nations. (Photo by Kento Awashima)

OSAKA -- Daikin Industries will acquire European manufacturer AHT Cooling Systems for a little more than 100 billion yen ($885 million), Nikkei has learned, making the Japanese company a global player in the commercial refrigeration business.

Daikin aims to cultivate refrigerators into a key operation as the market for air conditioners, the company's primary business, matures in developed nations.

The purchase of AHT, an Austria-based producer of refrigeration equipment used in supermarkets, will roughly triple annual sales in Daikin's refrigerator business to about 100 billion yen. Daikin will buy all shares in AHT from a British investment fund.

In addition to marketing its products to AHT's clients, Daikin plans to propose energy-saving services such as the use of a single outdoor unit for both air conditioning and refrigeration.

Daikin was attracted by AHT's global operations. AHT has production sites in Austria, the U.S., China and Brazil. Its strength lies in the ability to build products that match clients' requests in terms of both specifications and design.

The Japanese company has been developing its commercial refrigerator business, which is highly compatible with the air conditioner operations. In 2016, it acquired Italy's Zanotti, a manufacturer of industrial cooling and freezing equipment.

Daikin currently supplies refrigeration equipment for maritime transport and truck containers. The latest deal lets the company offer a complete cold chain -- a temperature-controlled supply chain -- from the production site to retailer.

Though Daikin's main air conditioner business is expected to continue growing in emerging economies, the market is maturing in developed nations. Meanwhile, the global market for business-use food cooling and freezing equipment continues to expand about 5% yearly. Daikin looks to switch from a business model of selling just air conditioners in developed nations to also providing services.

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