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Tungsram Returns to Independence

Tungsram officially announced its return to the market as a standalone, innovative global brand, headquartered in Hungary on April 4.

The Tungsram Group Management Team.

In February, GE Lighting announced the sale of its business in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, as well as its Global Automotive business, to an entity controlled by Jörg Bauer, a former leading GE executive based in Budapest (and the BBJ Expat CEO of the Year in 2017) with more than 20 years of multinational company experience.

On April 4, the first milestone of that proposed sale was realized when Tungsram Group assumed ownership of Tungsram Operations Kft., which included GE Lighting’s Hungarian-based operations, employees, assets and contracts. This represents a majority of the proposed sale. The sale of the remaining GE Lighting operations across the region is subject to local agreements. Before entering into these agreements, where appropriate, a consultation process with relevant employee representatives will be completed in accordance with local laws.

“We are both proud and humble to have the chance to restart the long history of Tungsram as a globally successful, innovation-driven brand,” Bauer, President & CEO of Tungsram Group, said at the press launch.

“We aspire to continue the tradition of industrial legends like Aschner Lipót, who dedicated his life to Tungsram and the community of world-class researchers like Zoltan Bay, Mire Bródy, Tivadar Millner or György Szigeti working in Europe’s first industrial research laboratory, which was set up in 1923 following the example of Thomas Edison.”

Speaking of future plans, Bauer said: “We plan to invest in all our active locations and develop distinct technological capabilities for the factories, all while strengthening customer-facing distribution partners. The whole organization will be refocused to support our customers and partners, following the principle of ‘what more can we do for your success’, with the flexibility and the agility of a startup company.”

Smooth Transition

Tungsram says its most important near-term goal is to assure a smooth transition, continuing operations as a standalone company, albeit with secured transitional support from GE for some time. Tungsram vows that customers, employees and suppliers “will experience uninterrupted deliveries, timely payments and exceptional quality” from day one.

The automotive division has proved successful in the world market for 60 years, both with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and in the aftermarket. “We would like to strengthen our current position, and we are planning serious development in LED (light emitting diodes) solutions, since this technology is taking a bigger chunk of the industry each year,” said Gabriella Mózes, the general manager of Automotive. She has worked in the industry for more than 40 years, and was at Tungsram at the time of the GE acquisition in 1989, and had been with the GE Lighting organization ever since.

Tungsram was originally established in 1896, in the year of Hungary’s Millennium celebration. “At the time of its founding, Tungsram, along with Budapest, successfully embraced the opportunities of its time and rapidly grew to a global technology leader,” the company said in a press statement.

“Likewise the Tungsram Group of today, now revitalized, will invest into future-safe technologies and dynamically growing global markets, while still strengthening the Lighting core of its business.”
The company says the core belief of the new management of Tungsram Group is contained in the slogan “Innovation is our heritage”, continuing a 120-year-old tradition of Hungarian creativity and innovation.

Tungsram says it exports more than 95% of its production, and will look to leverage sales into more than 100 global markets. It has five factories in Hungary and a network of 500 local suppliers and partners. On the world market, Tungsram will continue to be represented as a premium European brand with design, development and manufacturing all undertaken in Europe.

Tungsram Timeline

1862    Béla and Bernát Egger found the predecessor of Tungsram in Vienna
1896    Bernát Egger and the Pest Hungarian Commercial Bank form Egyesült Izzólámpa és Villamossági Rt. (United Electric Incandescent Light Factory Co.)
1901    Building of the Budapest factory
1904    Sándor Just and Franjo Haneman invent the tungsten filament light bulb that becomes the main product of the company
1921    Lipót Aschner becomes the CEO; he had come up with the name Tungsram; had founded factories and the world-famous research lab.
1923    A world famous research team is set up, including Pál Selényi, the ’father of xerography” and the inventor of light measurement for photography
1934    Imre Bródy, a researcher at Tungsram invents the krypton light bulb
1937    Tungsram opens a television laboratory
1946    Zoltán Bay, the technology officer of the company founds radar astronomy in a world famous experiment
1989    GE purchases the majority of Tungsram shares, later 100%.
1998    The first international SSC in Hungary is established at the GE/Tungsram EMEA HQ in Budapest
2018    Tungsram Group is founded