By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Australian water heater manufacturer Rheem Australia has made a strategic move into the air conditioning market, with the acquisition of Accent Air, an Australian producer of ducted air conditioning systems and hot water heat pumps.

Matt Sexton, CEO of Rheem Australia, said that Accent Air complemented Rheem’s existing operations.

“There are many synergies between hot water and air conditioning which exist at a customer level, in areas of converging technology – such as heat pump and controls – and in manufacturing assembly,” Sexton said.

“In the United States, Rheem already has a strong presence in air conditioning, which is equal in size to its hot water business. So it makes good sense that Rheem Australia is taking this direction.”

Established in 1993, the Liverpool, Sydney-based Accent Air produces air conditioning units and hot water heat pumps which are designed specifically to handle Australia’s climate conditions.

Accent’s reverse cycle air conditioning systems are used in both the domestic and commercial markets and its hot water pumps are used in hospitals, restaurants, car washes, nursing homes, commercial and hospital laundries, supermarkets and abattoirs.

“Accent has conducted all of its own R&D and manufacturing in Australia and has a level of capability way beyond its size,” said Sexton.

“The quality of the products it manufactures is outstanding and we are confident that we will be able to accelerate the growth of this company by leveraging significant aspects of the Rheem business and customer base.”

The acquisition will be finalised by 3 September 2007, when Rheem Australia will assume full management responsibility.

“Our immediate objective is to enable the successful transition of Accent into the group,” Sexton added.

“Rheem has a very strong commitment to Australia and, indeed, to Australian manufacturing. We have significant growth prospects and aim to be market leader in every category in which we operate. Acquiring Accent Air is certainly a positive step for Rheem, and will bring with it greater opportunity for Accent and the wider Rheem group.”