GE sells GE Lighting lamps business to Savant Systems

May 28, 2020
After a number of fits and starts, GE is finally completely out of the lighting business that was its legacy with Savant Systems acquiring the GE Lighting consumer lamps business unit.

GE has announced that it is selling its remaining lighting business — the GE Lighting consumer lamps unit — to Savant Systems. The company that was almost synonymous with the electric light bulb, and its inventor Thomas Edison, is now fully clear of the lighting business, although the more significant move was the divestiture of GE Current. Savant Systems is a smart-home specialist and GE Lighting does have some connected LED lamps, but the bulk of the business is in standard LED and legacy replacement lamps, with almost all newer products of the solid-state lighting (SSL) variety.

We first reported back in January 2018 that GE was shopping both what was then called Current powered by GE and GE Lighting — either separately or as a package deal. The company had previously moved the professional lighting business assets into the Current organization along with other energy businesses all looking to leverage industry movement toward Internet of Things (IoT) technology. It also sold off its GE Lighting EMEA operations in early 2018. GE subsequently trimmed Current back to a business focused on commercial lighting, including a heavy emphasis on connected lighting, and sold it to American industrial Partners (AIP) in November 2018. AIP has since changed the Current name once again to GE Current, a Daintree Company.

Clearly, the GE name will not disappear from the lighting landscape as both Current and Savant will have rights to use GE branding on certain products. Moreover, GE has licensed the brand to even other vendors in the past including Jasco that has sold consumer-centric LED-based products branded GE Lighting.

Given everything that has happened at GE in recent years, the sale of GE Lighting to Savant is a bigger deal emotionally than fiscally. GE has needed cash to try and right other parts of its business. And the company obviously projects more opportunity in the industrial sector.

“Today’s transaction is another important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company,” said Lawrence Culp, GE chairman and CEO. “Our GE Lighting colleagues will join a fast-growing leader in home automation that shares their passion for bringing the future to light. Together with Savant, GE Lighting will continue its legacy of innovation, while we at GE will continue to advance the infrastructure technologies that are core to our company and draw on the roots of our founder, Thomas Edison.”

Still, GE Lighting has scant presence in connected, smart lighting products. The company has launched wireless consumer products including LED lamps, controls, sensors, and more under the C by GE brand. At the CES event in Las Vegas back in January, GE said it was building a third-party ecosystem to grow the C by GE portfolio. But that portfolio wouldn’t seem sufficiently substantial to have garnered Savant’s interest, although the press release would indicate that it did.

“Savant’s mission from the start has been to create the number one smart home brand in the world, and I am confident that the acquisition of GE Lighting has moved us significantly toward that ultimate goal,” said Robert Madonna, Savant founder and CEO. “We are committed to ensuring that GE Lighting’s long history of industry leadership continues, while bringing exceptional value and reliability to retail partners and consumers as the number one intelligent lighting company worldwide. Never before has connectivity, security, intelligent lighting, and entertainment, all enjoyed within the comforts of home, been more top of mind with consumers.”

It may be primary control of the GE Lighting brand that most interested Savant. Or the real value may lay in intellectual property (IP). GE had a significant IP portfolio in the LED and SSL sectors, although the company has never revealed what parts of that IP went along with GE Current.

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About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.