He Xiangjian built Midea Group into one of China’s largest appliance makers, then stepped down from operations in 2012. In June 2016 Midea bought 80% of Toshiba’s money-losing home appliance arm for $500 million. Starting in May, the company also boosted its stake in German industrial robot firm Kuka from 13.5% to a reported 95%, paying some $4 billion. The deal that drew some concern about the transfer of advanced technology to China.
Starting with only CN¥ 5,000 to open a workshop for the production of bottle lids in Beijiao, Shunde in 1968, He Xiangjian (何享健), the founder of the company, has since turned Midea into one of the most successful private companies in China, with sales revenue for the entire Group declared at US$22.2 billion for 2011.
After its initial period of manufacturing bottle lids and car parts, the company focused on the manufacture of fully finished goods; specifically, electric fans beginning in 1980. Five years later, Midea produced its first air conditioner, a product which remains as the core component of Midea’s business today. Over the following 15 years though, the company gradually expanded into a wide variety of other electrical home appliances, including refrigerators, washing machines, microwaves.
In 1993, the subsidiary which handled the core businesses of the company, known as “GD Midea Holding”, proceeded with a public offering of shares on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The GD Midea’s parent company, known today as “Midea Group”, remained a privately held company.
Midea opened its first overseas production facilities in 2007, in the Vietnam Industrial Park outside of Ho Chi Minh City. This would mark the beginning of a period of international expansion for the company. In the very next year, Midea formed a manufacturing joint venture with Belarusian microwave producer Horizont, in order to break into the various CIS markets.
2010 would see the first of several overseas joint ventures between Midea and American air conditioner manufacturer, Carrier Corporation. Their first joint venture is based in Cairo, Egypt, under the name of Miraco Carrier. The next year, Midea and Carrier continued on this course, forming a collection of closely networked joint venture companies in Brazil, Argentina and Chile, and another one separately in India.
In August 2012, the board of Midea Group announced that the company’s founder, He Xiangjian, had informed them of his resignation as Chairman of Midea Group. GD Midea Holding Chairman and President, Paul Fang, was subsequently named as the new Chairman of Midea Group.
By April 2013, the whole company (including GD Midea) was publicly listed as Midea Group in Shenzen stock market (000333SZ).
At the end of 2014, the Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi invested CN¥ 1.2 Billion (around $200 Million USD) acquiring 1.2% of Midea Group. Despite being a small part of it, this opened the door to future collaboration between the 2 companies making Midea´s stock grow more than 6% in the day of the purchasing.It is said that both companies want to set a strategic cooperation for the future Internet of Things (also known as IoT) era.
In 2016, Midea made two major acquisitions, the first of which was Toshiba’s home appliances business for US$477 million, followed by the even larger purchase of KUKA, the German robotics company.