AHT, the global market leader in commercial plug-in refrigeration equipment for food retailers, is to be sold by private equity group Bridgepoint to Daikin Europe N.V., a subsidiary of Daikin Industries Ltd of Japan.
Headquartered in Austria, with a presence in over 100 countries, AHT's core products are 'plug-in' supermarket refrigeration cabinets. Plug-in refrigerators are the fastest growing segment in commercial refrigeration, replacing centralised remote systems as a result of lower total cost of ownership and speed of installation. The company has an installed base of over one million units. AHT's contracts are based around the provision of comprehensive installation and maintenance services alongside the products themselves. It has four manufacturing sites in Austria, China, Brazil and USA.
Bridgepoint acquired the business in November 2013. In 2017 the company had €481m net sales and has achieved 12% compound revenue growth over last 10 years.
Michael Davy, partner at Bridgepoint and Chairman of AHT, said: "AHT has been transformed from a largely Europe-focused business into a global leader in its segment with a growing presence in a number of attractive international markets. It has been at the forefront of the refrigeration industry's move away from remote built-in systems to plug-in units which customers find easier to install or relocate, are lower cost to operate, and are typically more environmentally friendly than traditional systems. We wish the company continued success under a new owner as it continues to expand geographically and enlarges further its product portfolio."
Under Bridgepoint ownership there was significant investment in the business including over €70 million of capital expenditure in the last three years alone for the development of new products, expanding the manufacturing facility in Austria and setting up new production sitesin Brazil and the US. AHT also expanded its operations in China, where its production capability has enabled the group to reduce manufacturing costs, while continuing to grow market share in Europe.
Plug-in refrigeration is forecast to continue to outperform the wider global refrigeration market as a result of increased adoption, the replacement cycle of its installed base and growth in the consumption of frozen and chilled foods.
Frank Elsen, chief executive of AHT, added: "We have developed strongly since Bridgepoint invested over four years ago and we've become a leader in our market. Our ambitions do not end here and we welcome Daikin as our new shareholder. We will now be alongside a partner who knows and understands our business well. They will support us in our strategy of innovation and further internationalisation, especially in emerging markets, allowing us to take AHT's technology and after-sales service to new customers in our key target markets of Asia and Latin America."
Masatsugu Minaka, President of Daikin Europe, said: "With the acquisition, Daikin is adding AHT showcases to its own wide range of products, services and solutions based on its air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. This will enable Daikin to become a one-stop provider, offering complete coordination of air conditioning and refrigeration products. The refrigeration and freezer business is a highly social issue as it contributes to one of the crucial world challenges of food preservation and food waste reduction, especially faced in developing countries. The refrigeration business presents great opportunities for us to utilise the advanced technologies we have cultivated including energy saving, inverters and refrigerant control."
For Bridgepoint, advisers involved in this transaction included: JP Morgan (M&A), PwC (financial/tax), Freshfields (legal)
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