As reported by the Wall Street Journal earlier today, Eastman Kodak may have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection if company officials aren’t successful in selling off 1,100 patents over the next few weeks. While the company would continue to operate during the bankruptcy procedure, Kodak would be forced to sell the patents during a court-supervised bankruptcy auction and wouldn’t get the full value for the patents. The company has also been discussing a billion dollar loan from banks to help continue operations after the bankruptcy process begins. The company employs approximately 19,000 employees and currently has hefty financial obligations in regards to Kodak retirees.
Though much of the 20th century, Kodak dominated the market for photographic film as much as 90 percent share in the United States during the late seventies. However, Kodak’s market share dissolved over the 1980s as foreign competitors undercut the cost of film. The company continued to lose customers as people converted to digital cameras and smartphones over the following two decades. Company officials eventually moved away from film to produce digital cameras, but the margins weren’t as lucrative as film. The company also branched out into video cameras, digital photo frames in addition to consumer and commercial printing solutions.
On the news of the possible Chapter 11 bankruptcy, shares of Eastman Kodak dropped by 28 percent. Concern for the company peaked during September 2011 when Kodak withdrew $160 million on a credit line. After the stock suffered due to that move, Kodak hired attorneys to advise company officials on methods of restructuring finances. Assuming that the company completes bankruptcy proceedings, Kodak will shed the financial obligation of pension and health-care costs for retirees which run approximately hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Kodak hasn’t been approached for takeover by any competing camera or printer manufacturer due to the exorbitant retiree costs as well a general lack of profitability over the past few years.
Kodak will be exhibiting at CES next week to show off the latest Kodak models of digital cameras, printers and other photo related technology.