Toshiba considering acquisitions to expand LED sales

Sept. 12, 2009
Acquisitions might be the best way for Toshiba to compete with its lighting rivals in the European and North American markets, according to Reuters.
A spokesperson for Toshiba Corp said recently that the company needs to consider acquisitions to develop sales routes and gain share overseas in the growing market for LED lights, according to a Reuters article.

Kuniaki Kumamaru, general manager of Toshiba's New Lighting Systems Division, said in an interview for the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit that "new deals stopped overseas after the Lehman shock," in contrast with better-than-expected LED sales at home. "M&A would be one option to develop different sales channels."

Toshiba, which developed Japan's first light bulb in 1890, aims to raise lighting system sales to 350 billion yen ($3.8 billion) by 2015, en route to grab roughly 15 percent of what it projects to be a 7 trillion yen global market for LED lighting by 2020.

However, the company is struggling to win business in the U.S. and Europe against big names General Electric Co, Philips and Osram (part of Siemens).

Panasonic LED lamp According to the article, demand has grown for LED lighting as businesses and governments seek to cut energy costs, maintenance fees and greenhouse gas emissions. Europe began phasing out standard energy-guzzling incandescent light bulbs this month, and Japan, China and Australia have taken similar steps, promising future growth.

While businesses can make up their investment in pricier LEDs through lower electricity costs within less than two years, prices have to go down from the current $40 to $50 for a 100-watt bulb to around $30 to sway households, Kumamaru said.

Toshiba opened sales bases in France and the United States in April, and plans to expand to Britain and Germany in October.

Toshiba now faces increasing competition at home from non-lighting makers Panasonic Corp., which said it will launch LED light bulbs in Japan on October 21 (see News), and Sharp Corp., which started a price war in Japan when it launched a 3,900 yen light bulb in July.