AFP – A slimmed-down Kodak announced Tuesday that it had emerged from bankruptcy protection and would specialise in technology focused on imaging for businesses.
During a 20-month bankruptcy reorganisation, Kodak divested many of its most iconic businesses, including its retail film products, its photography paper products and some 105,000 kiosks worldwide.
The company’s re-emergence opens a new chapter for an enterprise that helped launch photography for the masses in the 20th century but stumbled amid the digital revolution.
The newly-remade Kodak now has about 8,500 employees, a Kodak spokesman said, down from 120,000 workers in 1973.
The new company has manufacturing and technology centers in 10 countries and sells products in more than 130 countries.
“We have emerged as a technology company serving imaging for business markets — including packaging, functional printing, graphic communications and professional services,” said Kodak chief executive Antonio Perez in a statement.
“We are setting a trajectory for profitable growth,” Perez said. “We have the right technology at the right time as printing markets increasingly transition to digital.”
The company has net cash of $695 million above its net debt, a Kodak spokesman said.
Kodak divested many of its operations during the bankruptcy. In the biggest deal, Kodak sold its personalised and document imaging business to the UK Kodak Pension Plan (KPP), its largest creditor.
Under the agreement, announced in April, the pension plan agreed to pay Kodak $650 million in exchange for the settlement of $2.8 billion in claims against Kodak.
KPP is housing the products under a new company known as Kodak Alaris. The operation will have some 4,700 employees in about 30 countries, said a KPP news release.
Kodak also divested its digital imaging patents for $525 million
A New York bankruptcy court had approved Kodak’s reorganisation plan on August 20, but the company said at the time it still had some final steps before exiting Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Kodak said Tuesday it had completed the spinoff of assets to the UK Kodak Pension Plan, closed an agreement for $695 million in financing and obtained $406 million in new equity investments from unsecured creditors.
Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors in January 2012, after 131 years in business, as the company fell behind rivals in digital photography.
At the time, Kodak had not reported a profit since 2008 and had accumulated billions of dollars in debt.
The Rochester, New York-based company, started in 1892, led the way in popularising the cameras, film, slide projectors and home videos that preserved the memories of generations of Americans and others around the world.
Kodak was among the early developers of digital imaging, but lost ground to rivals as the company failed to adapt its business lines.
A previous reorganisation launched in 2003 by Perez to emphasise digital businesses eliminated 47,000 jobs in eight years.