Munich, Germany — AHT, the global market leader in commercial plug-in refrigeration and freezer systems for food retailers, is being sold by private equity investor Bridgepoint to Daikin Europe N.V., a subsidiary of Daikin Industries Ltd. in Japan.
The company, headquartered in Rottenmann/Styria, Austria, is present in over 100 countries with its core products — ready-to-plug-in refrigeration and freezer systems for the food retail sector. Commercial refrigeration equipment with built-in compressor (plug-in) is gradually replacing equipment with external refrigeration compressor and is the fastest growing segment in the commercial food refrigeration and freezer market. The advantages of plug-in units are lower total cost of ownership as well as shorter installation times. AHT looks back on an installed base of more than one million devices. In addition to the sale of products, the company’s range of services includes the provision of comprehensive planning, installation and maintenance services. The company’s four production sites are located in Austria, China, Brazil and the USA.
Bridgepoint acquired AHT in November 2013. The company generated net sales of €481 million for 2017 and has achieved average sales growth of 12% per year over the past 10 years.
Michael Davy, Partner at Bridgepoint and Chairman of AHT’s Board of Directors, said, “AHT has evolved in recent years from a largely European-focused company to a global leader in its segment that continues to expand its footprint to include other attractive international markets. The company has been instrumental in the industry-wide shift from units with external refrigeration compressors to plug-in systems. The latter are easier for customers to install compared to traditional systems and are less expensive as well as more environmentally friendly to operate. We wish the company continued success under its new ownership as it continues to expand geographically and grow its product portfolio.”
Under Bridgepoint, significant investments have been made in the company. In the past three years alone, over 70 million euros have been invested in the development of new products, the expansion of production in Austria, and the establishment of the new production facilities in Brazil and the USA. The expansion of production capacity in China has also enabled AHT to reduce its manufacturing costs while further expanding its market share in Europe.
Market observers believe that plug-in refrigeration systems will continue to outperform the overall global refrigeration market. This is due to the growing acceptance of these systems, the upcoming replacement cycle of already installed equipment, and the increasing consumer demand for frozen and refrigerated food.
Frank Elsen, Managing Director of AHT, added: “We have developed strongly since the investment by Bridgepoint more than four years ago and are now a market leader in our segment. We will not rest on our laurels and are pleased to have Daikin as our new owner, a partner who understands our business very well. Daikin supports our innovation strategy and planned further internationalization, especially in emerging markets, which will allow us to offer AHT’s technology and after-sales service to additional new customer groups in our target markets in Asia and Latin America.”
Masatsugu Minaka, President of Daikin Europe, said: “With this transaction, Daikin adds AHT cooling systems to its comprehensive range of proprietary air conditioning products, services and solutions. This will enable Daikin to offer the complete range of air conditioning and cooling systems from a single source in the future. Refrigeration and freezing systems are of great importance for one of the world’s most significant societal challenges — the shelf life of food and the reduction of food waste, especially in emerging and developing countries. The cooling systems sector offers great potential to our existing advanced technologies in energy conservation, heat exchangers and refrigeration control.”
Advisors Bridgepoint: Bridgepoint was advised on this transaction by JP Morgan on M&A, PwC on financing and tax, and Freshfields on legal.
Bridgepoint is an international private equity firm. With assets under management of 18 billion euros and capital raised of over 28 billion euros, the company focuses on acquiring well-managed companies in growth sectors. Bridgepoint’s strategy is to support businesses and management teams by investing in expansion, operational transformation, or consolidation through acquisitions.