"What happened to Sylvania?" and other lighting conundrums explained

Twenty-five years ago there was GTE Sylvania.
Then came OSRAM SYLVANIA. And Havells Sylvania. And even Feilo Sylvania. (who?)
And now, amidst a sea of bright orange track jackets in Zhongshan, the company formerly known as OSRAM SYLVANIA is part of a Chinese consortium that also owns Atlanta-based Forest Lighting.
Confused? Don't worry, we'll break it down for you here.

Over the last several years, the rapid decline of traditional incandescent, halogen, HID and fluorescent lighting sources have caused many of the big "glass and gas" manufacturers to react to the major business contraction. Simultaneously, these companies have been transitioning into technology, controls and IoT companies. Achieving success in all high-tech and low-tech business areas can be quite a challenge. So as the big companies forge ahead with shifts in technology, product and paradigm, the old-technology fallout creates management challenges to preserve profits while trying to retain and grow customers amidst major industry disruption.

GE Lighting looks a lot different today than it did ten years ago. Ditto for Philips. Most recently, LEDVANCE (which includes the company formerly known as OSRAM SYLVANIA), has become part of a Chinese consortium, while former parent OSRAM shifts its focus to specialty lighting, lighting solutions and semiconductors.

We have observed that many lighting industry people are interested in following the big lamp companies, but don't fully understand all of the recent moves involving SYLVANIA/OSRAM/LEDVANCE. So as a service to the industry, here is a break down of all the major moving parts.


January 1993: OSRAM SYLVANIA was created in North America when Munich-based OSRAM GmbH acquired SYLVANIA from GTE. In other parts of the world, Sylvania became SLI Holdings, which then became Havells Sylvania and is now Feilo Sylvania.

December 2015: OSRAM announced that it would carve-out its general lighting lamps business.

July 2016: On July 1, OSRAM SYLVANIA its general lighting lamps business into a separate, global company, LEDVANCE. In the U.S., OSRAM SYLVANIA carved out its general lighting business to LEDVANCE LLC, with OSRAM SYLVANIA remaining the regional headquarters for the OSRAM group. This move allowed the company to create separation from OSRAM while prepping for new ownership of the general lighting lamps business. Later in July, it was announced that a Chinese consortium would purchase LEDVANCE for approximately $440M. The consortium consists of the following:

MLS Co., Ltd.: Chinese lighting company that is parent to Atlanta-based Forest Lighting

IDG Capital: Strategic investor

Yiwu State-Owned Assets Operation Center: Financial investor


The product offerings for LEDVANCE consist of:

  • Primarily the traditional fluorescent, HID, halogen, incandescent, and specialty lamp products formerly sold in North America under the OSRAM SYLVANIA banner.
  • Point source LED lamps.
  • LIGHTIFY which is a residential smart fixture/control platform
  • A limited selection of luminaires

LEDVANCE is authorized to use the OSRAM brand globally and the SYLVANIA brand in the U.S. & Canada. This is particularly important for the consumer business, as SYLVANIA has solid traction and name recognition in the retail segment.

March 3, 2017

  • The Chinese consortium cited above closes on the transaction with OSRAM. Transfer of control is official and retroactive to March 1.
  • Forest Lighting and LEDVANCE are now sister companies under the MLS banner, and their product lines complement one another quite nicely.

Forest Lighting (a division of MLS) offers the following:

  • T8 & T5 LED Lamps
  • A limited offering of luminaires. One product of each category below.

- High bay
- Flat Panel
- Center lens troffer
- 6" retrofit down light.

So what about OSRAM?

OSRAM itself was a carve-out. It spun off of Siemens in July 2013 and has been traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange ever since.

OSRAM is now primarily focused on specialty lighting, semiconductors and lighting solutions & systems. Here's a breakdown of its business:

Professional Lighting Solutions

  • Sylvania Lighting Services: Turnkey lighting and controls solutions. Audits, installs, financing and commissioning
  • Traxon Technologies & e:cue: Architectural indoor/outdoor cove, floods, facade, color changing, accent and specialty lighting & controls.
  • Siteco: Indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures. Not well-penetrated in North America. A strong brand in Europe.

Digital Lighting Systems

  • Light engines, LED modules and control gears.
  • Encelium: Whole building lighting control systems

Automotive lighting

  • A very comprehensive offering of auto, truck and motorcycle lighting products.

Opto Semiconductors

  • LEDs
  • IR emitters and sensors

Entertainment Lighting Solutions

  • Clay Paky and ADP entertainment, theatrical and studio lighting.


  • Cinema, projection and special effects lighting.

A new beginning for both LEDVANCE and OSRAM

Moving forward, each company seems to be better positioned for success. LEDVANCE, teamed with MLS/Forest can focus on the sockets all across the globe, while building a portfolio of controls and fixtures. OSRAM, can turn its attention to the specialty markets, advanced lighting solutions and turnkey products & services.

With many new and nimble entrants to the LED and controls space, large lighting behemoths must continue to leverage their strengths while acting quickly to maintain and grow their market share. We look forward to watching OSRAM and LEDVANCE blaze their own independent trails to growth and success.

This article was edited on March 13, 2017 to include some clarifications provided by a very friendly and helpful OSRAM representative.

March 6, 2017