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Daikin acquires major refrigeration business

Daikin has confirmed plans to purchase AHT Cooling Systems – a European manufacturer of plug-in refrigerator and freezer systems – for €881m (Au$1.38bn).

AHT has its headquarters in Austria, as well as major facilities in China, the US and Brazil. It sells its products to 115 countries worldwide, and boasts a client list that includes major supermarket chains ALDI and LIDL, and leading manufacturers in the ice-cream and beverages industry such as Nestle, Coca-Cola and Unilever.

The company produces chest freezers, overhead cabinets, refrigerated multideck cabinets, ice-cream cabinets and promotion coolers. These systems use R290 (propane) as a refrigerant, a potential advantage given the current move towards low-GWP refrigerants, and the likely increase of charge sizes for R290 systems.

The purchase is expected to triple Daikin’s refrigeration sales, and represents a strategic move to build this side of the business. This was an objective Daikin signalled in 2016 with the acquisition of Zanotti, an Italian manufacturer of industrial cooling and freezing equipment. It also reflects the evolving market for air conditioners. Although demand in developing countries is expected to grow strongly, other air conditioner markets are becoming more mature. Refrigeration, meanwhile, continues to expand by about 5 per cent a year.

Daikin already produces refrigerated containers (reefers) for transport of perishable goods by boat and truck, so the purchase of AHT gives the company products across the cold chain. It will also allow Daikin to expand its offering in terms of services and combining the different parts of its businesses.

Some have suggested that the company will be able to integrate air conditioning and refrigeration products, for example, by using a single outdoor unit for both systems.

“With this acquisition, Daikin is adding AHT showcases to its own wide range of products, services, and solutions based on its air conditioning and refrigeration equipment,” says Daikin. “This will enable the company to become a one-stop provider offering complete coordination of air conditioning and refrigeration products. This acquisition is also expected to solidify Daikin’s business foundation in Europe and promote full-scale expansion of its refrigeration business in the United States as well as Asia.”

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