|Kodak Reshuffles Decks |
By DANA MATTIOLI and DREW FITZGERALD
Wall Street Journal
December 23, 2011
Eastman Kodak Co. reshuffled its decks Thursday, promoting its general counsel to president and selling off a 194-year-old business that made gelatin.
The moves appeared to be a welcome boost for Kodak shares, which moved 20% higher in after-hours trading.
But they also highlighted the straits at the Rochester, N.Y.-based company, as it races to find fresh financing amid a steep decline in the value of its stock and bonds.
One key path for 131-year-old Kodak is selling off its portfolio of intellectual property, which might bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in Kodak's product lines, which are largely printers.
Late Thursday, Kodak said it was promoting general counsel Laura Quatela to president. Ms. Quatela, who joined Kodak in 1999, has been responsible for monetizing Kodak's intellectual property since 2008.
The 54-year-old Ms. Quatela will begin serving as president alongside current president Phil Faraci, who has been in the role since 2007. Both will report to Chief Executive Antonio Perez.
Ms. Quatela's role in the company has grown as Kodak's fortunes declined. The same year she became head of intellectual property, Kodak created a goal to generate between $250 million and $350 million a year in patent licensing.
Under Ms. Quatela's leadership, Kodak struck a $550 million licensing deal with Samsung Electronics Co. and a $400 million deal with LG Electronics Inc., as well as a number of other deals that have been a big factor in keeping the company afloat.
Since August, her role has become even more vital as Kodak began an effort to sell 1,100 of its digital patents. Ms. Quatela has appeared alongside Mr. Perez in company town halls, updating employees about Kodak's patent sale efforts.
The company and its restructuring advisers have been aggressively looking to shed assets.
Kodak said it was selling off its Eastman Gelatine Corp. business to Rousselot, part of Vion Food Group for an undisclosed sum.
The Kodak subsidiary dates back to 1817 and makes gelatin for printing, imaging, food and pharmaceutical purposes. Kodak bought the company, at one time named The American Glue Company, in 1930 when its film business was thriving. As film sales started to wane, the company branched out more aggressively into other areas like food and pharmaceuticals.
The sale also includes a 575,000-square-foot production facility in Peabody, Mass., where the company makes gelatin made from cattle bones.
Kodak warned last month that if it isn't able to close on a patent deal or raise rescue financing over the next 12 months it may not be able to remain in business.
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