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OSAKA — Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Daikin Industries, Ltd. announced plans Monday to collaborate in the air conditioning business that will include establishing a joint venture company in April.

The new company will focus on the research and development of environmentally friendly technologies, the two companies said.

As Matsushita is a leading manufacturer of household air conditioners and Daikin supplies the most commercial-use conditioners in Japan, the two firms hope the union will allow them to become the world’s leading producers of air conditioners.

“By making use of each company’s strength and enhancing our efficiency, we aim to become the world’s leading manufacturer in the air conditioning business,” Matsushita President Yoichi Morishita told a news conference.

The joint venture company will concentrate on research and development of advanced technologies that contribute to saving energy, protecting the ozone layer and recycling used products.

It will also develop efficiency control systems for commercial-use air conditioning equipment.

The firms plan to introduce jointly developed household air conditioners in 2002, according to both companies.

By the end of March in 2003, Matsushita and Daikin will supply each other with products at their existing facilities worldwide, with Matsushita focusing on household air conditioners and Daikin primarily producing commercial versions.

In China, for instance, Daikin annually produces 8,000 residential and 20,000 commercial-use air conditioners at its Shanghai plant; the plan is for Daikin to focus on the production of commercial-use conditioners there, while household products will be manufactured at Matsushita’s plant in Kuangchou.

In the field of sales, however, the two companies will retain their own brand names and sales networks, they said.

They also plan to study the possibility of collaborating in such areas as digital network applicable air conditioners and total energy saving control systems for buildings. The details of those projects will be studied by a steering committee chaired by two of the firms’ executive vice presidents.

Annual production of household air conditioners stands at about 6.7 million units in Japan, while 700,000 machines are produced for commercial use. Although the domestic market may be saturated, growth is expected in the rest of Asia, Oceania and Europe, according to the firms.

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