GE has previously unloaded units that make microwaves, locomotives and washing machines as well as NBC Universal and much of its troubled financial arm.
“Today’s transaction is another important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company,” GE CEO Larry Culp said in a statement.
GE-branded light bulbs are not going away, however. Much like GE’s sale of its appliance division to China’s Haier in 2016, the lighting transaction includes a long-term licensing agreement that allows Savant to use the storied GE brand. That means shoppers will still see the GE-branded light bulbs in stores.
GE Lighting, which has more than 700 employees, will remain based in Cleveland after the deal closes, likely in mid-2020.
Savant, a Massachusetts-based company betting on the booming smart home industry. Savant makes lighting, security, climate and entertainment products, including smart speakers.
“We are committed to ensuring that GE Lighting’s long history of industry leadership continues,” Savant founder and CEO Robert Madonna said in the statement, “while bringing exceptional value and reliability to retail partners and consumers as the number one intelligent lighting company worldwide.”
GE’s roots are inextricably tied to the light bulb. The company was co-founded by Edison, the inventor of the modern light bulb. In 1892, Edison merged his company, Edison General Electric Company, with Thomson-Houston Electric Company.
By 1935, GE’s light bulbs were bright enough to light Major League Baseball’s first-ever night game, which was played in Cincinnati. GE also invented the fluorescent bulb in 1938 and the halogen lamp in 1959.
But the lighting industry has been struggling for years because of low prices and another product it pioneered: LED.
LED lighting, invented by GE in 1962, last for decades. Of course, that means they don’t need to be replaced as often. Prices and revenue for lighting have tumbled in recent years, prompting GE to seek a buyer for the business.
GE has sold off a series of businesses in recent years to raise billions of dollars and repay a mountain of debt. The company is now focused on four major industrial divisions: aviation, healthcare, power and renewable energy.
CNN Business’ David Goldman contributed to this report.