China’s MLS Said to Be Lead Bidder for Osram Lighting Businessby , , and
Osram said to plan to choose a winner as soon as this month
Sale will help German firm focus on auto, building lighting
Chinese lighting company MLS Co. is the frontrunner to buy Osram Licht AG’s light bulb and LED-lamp business, as the German company moves closer to finding a buyer more than a year after announcing plans to separate the division, according to people familiar with the matter.
Osram may choose a winner for the asset as soon as this month, said the people, who asked not to be identified because talks are private. MLS is attempting to buy Osram’s asset as part of a consortium, and is in negotiations about topics including the structure of the deal and the company’s intellectual property, said one of the people. The Chinese firm may pay less than 500 million euros ($558 million) for the investment, another person said.
Other bidders, including a private equity firm, are still interested and no final decisions have been made, they said. Osram is in discussions with various interested parties, a spokesman for the company said, declining further comment. A representative for MLS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside of normal business hours.
Osram is selling the general lamps business, which generates about 36 percent or 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) of the Munich-based company’s annual sales, to focus on research and development, products for the automotive industry and lighting solutions for buildings and cities. The world’s second largest lighting company has been under pressure as the demand for traditional lighting gives way to light-emitting diode technology.
In a similar move, Royal Philips NV sold a 25 percent stake in its general lighting business for 750 million euros in May to raise funds. The company, which said it will offload the remaining stake over the next several years, chose a Dutch listing after failing to find a buyer.
Since announcing plans to separate the general lamps business more than a year ago, shareholders and management have disagreed over Osram’s revamped strategy. Osram said Chief Financial Officer Klaus Patzak would resign earlier this year after a clash with fellow board members, and the company announced his departure on June 30. The company’s largest shareholder, Siemens AG, has accused management of destroying shareholder value by pursuing unprofitable projects.
Osram shares rose 0.8 percent to close at 48.15 euros in Frankfurt trading Thursday. The stock has gained 24 percent this year.