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Kodak's Bankruptcy at the One Year Mark

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Rochester: Kodak's Bankruptcy at the One Year Mark
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When Kodak filed for bankruptcy a year ago, its survival was hanging in the balance.

"There was a great deal of uncertainty about what Kodak's assets would be worth, what the future would hold, whether they could emerge from bankruptcy or whether Kodak would actually liquidate," said George Conboy, a local financial analyst and president of Brighton Securities.

Conboy describes Kodak's bankruptcy process in the past year as one with plenty of twist and turns.

"Many of the things the company has tried to do have not worked out that well," said Conboy. "The biggest disappointment of course was the patent sale. They expected billions. They got hundreds of millions."

The company was expecting $2.5 billion to be exact. But Kodak auctioned its digital patent portfolio for $525 million as part of a deal to secure $830 million in loans.

Former bankruptcy Judge John Ninfo says that sale still changed everything.

"It impacted everything," said Ninfo. "It clearly changed the flow of everything and it's going to leave Kodak coming out a much smaller company than they thought they were going to come out at."

So far this year we've seen the company scale back by selling off businesses and laying off thousands of employees. Last year Kodak determined 3,900 positions would be cut.
Ninfo says what's surprising is the cost of the bankruptcy process, which he says has reached $125 million.

"That surprised me a little bit because I didn't know it would be that high this early," said the former bankruptcy judge.

In a statement, Kodak says it has made progress through restructuring objectives. That includes legacy costs, such as ending medical benefits for thousands of local retirees and dropping its name from what is now the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The company is also focusing on what it calls it most valuable businesses, including Commercial Imaging.

"If there's any silver lining to the Kodak bankruptcy story it is that at least Kodak won't be liquidated. at least Kodak won't vanish forever," said Conboy.

But until then, the road back from bankruptcy isn't finished just yet. Kodak says it still has to resolve its pension obligations in the United Kingdom and sell its personalized and document imaging businesses.

"It will be smaller. It will be weaker," said Conboy. "It won't be the Kodak we knew, but there will be a Kodak."

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