ARISTON Thermo Group, a leader in the heating industry, said it expects robust business growth in China this year as the government's massive spending program offsets the effects of the global financial crisis

The Italian company, which supplied the solar thermal system for last year’s Beijing Olympics, announced yesterday it won the bids for a solar hot water system at the Shanghai Expo Center and gas-fired boilers and electric water heaters for apartment blocks in Expo Village.

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The heating products and solutions provider said China sales this year are expected to jump 25 percent to 80 million euros (US$118 million), grabbing a larger share of the company’s global business. The Asia-Pacific region generated 13 percent of its 1.2 billion euro global revenue in 2008.

Ariston’s products include water heaters, solar thermal equipment, boilers and heat pumps.

“Some property projects have been delayed due to the financial crisis, which impacted demand for heating systems,” said Elie Melhem, president of Ariston China.

“But the government has invested heavily in infrastructure,” Melhem added. “As a provider of diversified product lines, we find lots of potential.”

The energy efficiency of the solar hot water system for the Shanghai Expo Center will be more than 82 percent, compared with an industry average of 60 percent. The system could save 370,000 kilowatt-hours and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 38 tons a year.

The company said partnerships with developers will still be a main driver of its growth in China, but it plans to expand by exploring opportunities in the retail market.

“We have seen the economy picking up this year, and property developers are restarting their projects,” said Melhem.

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