SMART enters LED business with $300m Cree buy

SMART enters LED business with $300m Cree buy
Business news |
Smart Global Holdings, better known for memory modules, is entering the LED market with the purchase of Cree’s LED business.
By Nick Flaherty


Smart’s purchase of Cree LED is potentially worth up $300m but starts with a $50m payment. Another $125m is payable in three years time, and the remainder is due, again in three years, if sales targets are met.

Smart sees the deal as ‘transformative’, using its global platform and operational expertise to deliver LED components and systems under the Cree LED brand for general and specialty lighting, large-format video screens and outdoor and architectural lighting. Cree LED currently serves over 1,000 customers through direct sales as well as a strong global distribution network and has over 2000 patents. Over 2000 staff, including 200 engineers, will move across to Smart, including Claude Demby, Senior VP and general manager of LED Products at Cree (above right).

“As a leader in LED technology with a highly respected brand and expansive patent portfolio, Cree LED has a track record of delivering best-in-class solutions through well-established distribution and sales channels,” said Mark Adams, President & CEO of Smart Global Holdings (above, left).

“The addition of Cree LED significantly advances our growth and diversification strategy. We see a meaningful opportunity to expand our business into specialty lighting and continue to drive value for our customers, employees, and shareholders,” said Adams. “We are excited about this transformational transaction and look forward to welcoming the Cree LED team to the Smart family.”

The deal also marks a turn-around for Cree, which tried to sell its power device and RF business to Infineon in 2017, which would have left it with the LED business. Instead, Cree sold of the lighting buisness and now has extensive deals with companies such as ST Microelectronics, ZF and ABB for power, and is investing over $1bn in its silicon carbide wafer business.

“We are pleased to announce the sale of our LED Products business to Smart, which represents another key milestone in our transformational journey to create a pure-play global semiconductor powerhouse,” said Cree CEO Gregg Lowe, who joined Cree in 2017 from Freescale and Texas Instruments. “This transaction uniquely positions Cree with a sharpened strategic focus to lead the industry transition from silicon to silicon carbide. Smart has a strong platform and a solid track record of successfully acquiring and integrating businesses with a focus on specialty solutions.”

“We see meaningful upside opportunity at Cree LED as we leverage Smart’s proven operating system and believe that with renewed focus, strong operating discipline, transformative manufacturing expertise, and synergistic cost benefits, we will deliver significant shareholder value,” said Adams.

The deal is expected to occur in the first calendar quarter of 2021 and Smart expects to license and incorporate the Cree LED brand and trademarks into the SMART portfolio of businesses. 

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