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Kodak to Spin Off Prosper Inkjet Business (Commentary by David Zwang)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Press release from the issuing company

Editor's Note:  See below for commentary from David Zwang

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Eastman Kodak Company today announced strategic decisions related to its Enterprise Inkjet and silver metal mesh touch sensor businesses, following in-depth management reviews of these business operations and discussions with customers, partners and other industry participants. 

KODAK PROSPER Enterprise Inkjet Business

Kodak is in talks with prospective buyers about offers to purchase its KODAK PROSPER enterprise inkjet business, with its highly acclaimed PROSPER Press Platform, PROSPER S Series Imprinting Systems and related products. 

Sagent Advisors, an independent investment bank, and DC Advisory, a European corporate finance adviser, which share Daiwa Securities, a Japanese investment bank, as a common shareholder, have been engaged by Kodak to manage the sale process.

“The PROSPER business has significant potential for accelerated growth,” said Jeff Clarke, Kodak Chief Executive Officer. “To achieve its full economic potential, PROSPER will be best leveraged by a company with a larger sales and distribution footprint in digital printing markets.” 

“We have received strategic interest in the PROSPER business from companies and their financial representatives,” Clarke stated. “We will continue to invest in PROSPER during the sale process. This is an exceptional technology and product set, highly valued by the printing industry.”

“The market opportunity for PROSPER will expand even further with the planned introduction of KODAK ULTRASTREAM, a next-generation inkjet writing system with significantly enhanced performance,” said Philip Cullimore, President of Kodak’s Enterprise Inkjet Systems Division and the Micro 3D Printing & Packaging Division. “ULTRASTREAM will move production inkjet into the mainstream of commercial printing and packaging.”

Kodak will feature live demonstrations of ULTRASTREAM at drupa 2016, the print industry’s largest trade show, taking place in Dusseldorf, Germany later this year (May 31-June 10). 

Silver Metal Mesh Technology

Functional 3D printing, including touch screen sensors, is an important element of Kodak’s portfolio, and Kodak will continue to develop leading-edge technology in this segment. After advancing both silver and copper metal mesh technologies, Kodak has decided to focus on copper. “Based on feedback from industry participants, it’s clear our fully additive copper metal mesh is the winning approach in terms of overall cost, setup cost and scalability to larger screens — where we see the most significant opportunities,” said Cullimore.

Kodak will exit its position in silver metal mesh development, but will continue to make silver halide film available to touch screen sensor manufacturers.


Commentary by David Zwang

David Zwang and Cary Sherburne had a chance to interview Philip Cullimore, the President of Kodak’s Enterprise Inkjet Systems Division, to better understand the decision and talk about the future direction of Kodak.

Kodak has sold 16 Prosper presses last year, and has some more in the pipeline that didn’t make it into last years revenue accounting. So obviously there is an interested market. And, while they are very positive about the Prosper, Stream and Ultrastream technologies, it appears as though Kodak doesn’t feel it has the internal structure or time to scale enough to be able to sell those products into what is turning out to be a very competitive marketplace. 

When asked what will be the driver for Kodak’s growth and trajectory moving forwards, Phillip stated that their plate division, which includes Sonora offset and flexo products has continued to maintain growth, and they expect it to continue that growth in the future. He also said that Prinergy, the “the operating system for graphic arts” will continue to play a role in the future of Kodak.

Additionally, Kodak does have a number of functional printing areas that they are focusing on, but still fairly early in the process, that should also support them moving forward. 

When asked if they have buyers interested, they said they are in active discussions.

 

Discussion

By Paul Gardner on Mar 17, 2016

Thanks David and Cary!

Abandoning the inkjet web business, appears to leave NexPress in an odd place... Prinergy is beginning to show it's age... And the demand for plates isn't likely to grow anytime soon...

Do you think Kodak may be getting out of Print entirely?

Is there REALLY a future for Kodak as a supplier to those of us in printing and imaging?

 

By Ira Goldman on Mar 18, 2016

If you look at Kodak's 2015 results, if they exited the traditional graphics plate and workflow business, they would have exited 80% of the remaining business post Prosper. So I think Kodak will remain a supplier to printing and imaging but possibly under different owners. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an ex KPG / Kodak employee who retired from the Pre Press business in 2012 so I don't have any inside information or personal stake in promoting a particular point of view.

 

By Gordon Pritchard on Mar 21, 2016

Kodak appears to be investing in the past to secure their future. How about bringing back Super 8 movie film? Or 35mm? That's what Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke is excited about for Kodak as he says here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6Iba3_Qolk
and here:
http://petapixel.com/2016/01/12/kodaks-ceo-uses-35mm-film-as-his-business-card/
Clarke says: “We are building and investing in it [film] to grow, including supporting and building labs around the world. There's so much artistic interest, and renewed support from studios. When artists spoke, it saved an art form.” ( source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/beh...dak-ceo-848593 )

 

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