Fin24

Kodak files for bankruptcy

2012-01-19 08:08

New York - Eastman Kodak, which invented the hand-held camera and helped bring the world the first pictures from the moon, has filed for bankruptcy protection, capping a prolonged plunge for what remains one of America's best-known companies.

The 130-year-old photographic film pioneer, which had tried to restructure to become a seller of consumer products like cameras, said it had also obtained a $950m, 18-month credit facility from Citigroup to keep it going.

"The board of directors and the entire senior management team unanimously believe that this is a necessary step and the right thing to do for the future of Kodak," chairperson and CEO Antonio M Perez said in a statement.

Kodak said that it and its US subsidiaries had filed for Chapter 11 business reorganisation in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Non-US subsidiaries were not covered by the filing, it added.

Kodak once dominated its industry and its film was the subject of a popular Paul Simon song, but it failed to quickly embrace more modern technologies such as the digital camera - ironically, a product it even invented.

Its downfall has already hit its Rust Belt hometown of Rochester, New York, with employment there falling to about 7 000 from more than 60 000 in Kodak's halcyon days.

In recent years, Perez has steered Kodak's focus more toward consumer and commercial printers.

But that failed to restore annual profitability, something Kodak has not seen since 2007, or arrest a cash drain that has made it difficult for Kodak to meet its substantial pension and other benefits obligations to its workers and retirees.

Perez said bankruptcy protection would enable Kodak to continue to work to maximise the value of its technology assets, such as digital-imaging patents it licences for use in mobile and other devices and its printing technology.

Kodak said it is being advised by investment bank Lazard, which has been helping Kodak look for a buyer for its 1 100 digital patents.

Other advisers include business-turnaround specialist FTI Consulting, whose vice-chairperson Dominic DiNapoli will serve as chief restructuring officer for Kodak, supporting existing management.