Smart choices in Cree LED deal

October 30, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
The return of the conglomerate
Nick Flaherty talks to Mark Adams, CEO of Smart Global Holdings, following its $300m acquisition of Cree LED

Mark Adams knows a good deal. That, you might say, is the business model of Smart Global Holdings, a collection of specialty companies more reminiscent of past conglomerates such as GEC and GE.  

Today' conglomerates have also been getting focussed. The Danaher group for example spun off its test an dindustrial automation companies such as Tektronix and Fluke into a separate subsidiary called Fortive that then split again into Vontier. Adams though begs to differ. Smart Holdings has a global, diversified customer base of over 250 customers includes some of the most well-recognized names in the technology industry.

“I’m not sure I would agree conglomerates are going out of style,” he said after agreeing to acquire the LED business of Cree. The deal is worth $300m but the initial payment is just $15m and brings Smart its first semiconductor company.

Before joining Smart Holdings at the end of August 2020, Adams was Chief Executive Officer at Lumileds and President of memory maker Micron Technology, as well as Chief Operating Officer of memory card maker Lexar Media and Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Creative Labs.

“We leverage what we do well,” said Adams. “Our mission is to scale and grow our company and find great returns and we do this by running companies really well and scale our existing portfolios and find companies that fit our mold – that are really good companies that have the potential to perform better.”

“We look for things around how we operate the company, that can be from manufacturing, IT, supply chain, there’s a number of criteria. We looked at Cree and it matches.”

“Our businesses are unique in that there’s a speciality,” he said. He points to Penguin Computing and  SMART Memory Modules as examples (see below). “Even our IoT embedded and wireless business, these are not commodity businesses.”

Next: Why LED?

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