Sanan Optoelectronics has been looking for ways to jumpstart its LED manufacturing operation, and the merger of Luminus Devices into Sanan's Lightera Corp will provide the Chinese company with access to much needed intellectual property (IP). Luminus announced the merger and said that it will remain an independent business unit and operate as a subsidiary of Lightera.
Ella Shum of analyst firm Strategies Unlimited (a sister PennWell business to LEDs Magazine within PennWell Corp) wrote about Sanan and the likelihood of China producing a top-ten LED manufacturer last December. Shu speculated that Sanan could become a top global supplier after seeing some success in Taiwan with low-end LEDs, but she also noted that the company badly needed an IP infusion to compete in high-end LEDs for the mainstream lighting market.
Luminus certainly has some IP having been around for a decade and burned through more than $150 million in venture funding. But the company's larger LEDs have been mostly successful in niche applications.
"As a leader in the specialty lighting market, Luminus Devices provides us with proven, state-of-the-art technology that will allow Lightera to expand both our US and international offerings," said Decai Sun, chairman and CEO of Lightera. "We expect Luminus to continue to focus on new technology, specialty lighting markets, applications and superior customer service." Lightera is rumored to have made major investments in LED fab lines in the Silicon Valley area of California.
Luminus did not announce what Sanan and Lightera paid Luminus' prior investors to seal the merger agreement. Website LEDnews.org reported the deal totaled $22 million — a relatively low number given the money invested over the years by venture capitalists and the fact that Luminus had annual revenue in excess of $17 million.
Luminus had been rumored to be looking for additional venture investment, although the merger is surprising if it turns out that Sanan now has 100% of the equity in the company as some have speculated. "Luminus has been searching for the right partner that would add to our extensive intellectual property, allow for expansion of our global operations and would be additive to our market-leading position in many segments of the worldwide specialty lighting market," said Keith Ward, president and CEO of Luminus Devices. "This relationship with Lightera and Sanan will allow us to expand our capabilities through new access to technical and financial resources well beyond our current position."