Philips to sell major stake in LED, car lighting arm for $2.8 bn

31st March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Dutch electronics giant Philips on Tuesday said it was selling a majority stake in its LED and car lighting arm to a consortium led by China and US-based GO Scale Capital investment fund in a deal worth $2.8 bn.

The deal is part of Philips' broader streamlining move which will eventually see the 120-year-old company transform into a specialist healthcare-lifestyle manufacturer.

"Philips today announced that it has signed an agreement with a consortium led by GO Scale Capital through which they will acquire an 80.1 percent interest in Philips' combined LED components and automotive lighting business," the Amsterdam-based group said.

"Philips expects to receive cash proceeds, before tax and transaction related costs, of approximately USD 2.8 billion (2.5 billion euros)," it said in a statement, with up to another $100 million possible in deferred contingent payments.

After the sale, to be completed in the third quarter of the year, Philips will retain a 19.9 percent share in the business, it added.

Philips last year announced it would split in two, separating its healthcare-lifestyle arm from its historic lighting section in a move to streamline operations.

The split is expected to be completed some time next year, with analysts predicting that Philips could eventually sell off Lighting, one of its core businesses for many years.

Part of the split included creating a separate company for some of its lighting activities, namely its LED and car lighting branches, to be branded under the name of Lumileds.

"We are convinced that together with GO Scale Capital, Lumileds can grow further, attract more customers and increase scale as a stand-alone company," Philips chief executive Frans van Houten said on Tuesday.

"We feel very comfortable to hand over 80 percent of the shares... to this consortium which has a proven track record," Van Houten told journalists in an early-morning conference call.

Lumileds is a leading supplier of general, car and consumer lighting components and operates in 30 different countries, employing some 8,300 people world-wide.

Founded in 1891 in the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven, Philips itself employs around 112,000 people globally.

- Lumiled looks to cars -

Philips, a household name around the world for home appliances, has already in recent years stripped down its business to focus more on advanced lighting technology and on medical technology where margins are strong and less vulnerable to competition from emerging markets.

"We take Philips' history as inspiration, but not as a sentiment to guide decisions," Van Houten said on Tuesday.

GO Scale Capital is a new investment fund sponsored by GSR Ventures and Oak Investment Partners with offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Silicon Valley.

Its current investments include US-based Boston Power, which makes electric vehicle batteries and China-based Xin Da Yang which produces electric vehicles.

"GO Scale Capital will focus on expanding Lumileds' opportunities by investing in its global centres of operation and in the fast growing general lighting and automotive industries," GO Scale Capital chairman Sonny Wu said in Tuesday's statement.

"Together with a customer base including the likes of BMW, Volkswagen and Audi, we expect to see significant growth and unparallelled inroads into new opportunities such as electric vehicles," Wu said.


© 2015 AFP

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