In its first move in the plan to divest its lighting business, General Electric (GE), Boston, has agreed to sell the Europe, Middle East, Africa and Turkey parts, along with its global automotive lighting business, to a group led by former GE executive Joerg Bauer. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Bauer, former president of GE Hungary, will keep the headquarters of the acquired lighting business in Budapest and, according to a GE Lighting memo cited by Crain’s Cleveland Business, will have the use of the GE Lighting name during a transitional period then shift to Tungsram, a business acquired by GE in 1989 with a legacy in lighting almost as long as GE’s: Tungsram obtained the world’s first patent on a tungsten filament lamp in 1904.
GE has talked of selling its legacy lighting business since last June as part of an effort to improve profitability and regain favor among investors who have soured on the company’s stock following a string of lackluster quarterly results and a change of leadership.
Industry talk about prospective buyers of GE Lighting and Current have assumed a company from outside the U.S. with an interest in leveraging GE’s established distribution channels and unrivaled name recognition would have the most to gain.
Combined, GE’s lighting businesses, including both GE Lighting and Current, fell to $546 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, down 7% from $584 million during the fourth quarter of 2016.