Tokyo — Daikin Industries, the world’s largest maker of air conditioning equipment, is turning to Africa for further expansion, 10 years after a successful gamble on sharing its key technology with a Chinese company. As Japanese manufacturers, such as Panasonic, stepped back from home appliances more than a decade ago to avoid price wars with Asian rivals, Daikin did the opposite, going head-to-head with the likes of South Korea’s LG. Fighting off low-cost competitors through local partnerships and acquisitions, Daikin grabbed top share in markets such as India. Africa, where LG and China’s Haier are established giants, may seem like another difficult target for Daikin. But Yoshihiro Mineno, Daikin’s senior executive in charge of Asia, said the company is used to silencing critics, recalling the controversy more than 15 years ago over its decision to target mass markets overseas. "Many sceptics at the time said it would be impossible to make profits in the ‘volume zone’ in Asia, and...

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