Kodak is already talking with potential buyers, less than a month after it announced it would sell its film and paper businesses, as well as its retail imaging and event imaging divisions, Kodak's Dennis Olbrich tells BJP in an exclusive interview
In August, Kodak announced it was selling its film and paper businesses, as the company remains under bankruptcy protection in an effort to re-emerge as a smaller but stronger entity dedicated to, among other things, inkjet printing.
BJP's Olivier Laurent meets with Dennis Olbrich, general manager of the film, paper and output systems, and vice president of the consumer business at Eastman Kodak Company, to ask him what this sale will mean for the future of Kodak's range of films.
"The key thing we are trying to get across to customers, and to the world, is that Kodak is selling these businesses, not shutting these businesses down," says Olbrich. "We are extremely committed to both the film and Silver Halide businesses going forward. We have a good business and are expecting these businesses to continue long into the future." But in different hands.
The goal, says Olbrich, is to find one buyer that will take on both the Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging divisions, which encompass digital scanners, picture kiosks, souvenir photo products, photographic paper, as well as Kodak's legendary film businesses. "It's still early in the process and, honestly, we won't know [what exactly will be transferred] until we enter into negotiations with the final buyer. We would prefer one buyer for all these divisions, primarily because we think there are a lot of synergies between these businesses. That was our going-in position, and the more we mapped out these businesses, the more these synergies became clearer. It makes a lot of sense to sell these as one business. We believe our buyers, as we start to talk to them and get into more detailed discussions, will come to the same conclusions."
But Olbrich was able to confirm that Kodak has already received enquiries from potential buyers. "We have started to talk with people," he tells BJP. "There has been a lot of interest, and a lot of people are extremely anxious to discuss this with us. We are in the process of signing Non-Disclosure Agreements with people who are interested and just starting to get into the process of setting up sessions with these potential buyers."
Some of these buyers are traditional photographic companies, as well as private equity firms, BJP understands.
Kodak expects the sale to be completed by mid-2013, with employees across the world affected. But, in the meantime, Olbrich says it's business as usual. "We are still continuing to make the film, we are still continuing to sell the film and, frankly, people are continuing to buy it at a pretty good rate. We have been very successful with the colour negative professional films and the black-and-white films. These are strong businesses and we fully expect that buyers will see that, will be excited about the process, and potentially invest more money into these businesses going forward."
BJP will publish its full interview with Dennis Olbrich tomorrow as part of its Special Photokina iPhone editions. To read the full interview, download the iPhone app here.
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