In what is becoming a “developing” story, financial news outlet Bloomberg is reporting that Eastman Kodak Company is currently weighing the benefits of a bankruptcy filing. The 131-year-old U.S. camera company recently hired law firm Jones Day for restructuring advice, the Wall Street Journal reported. Long known for its wide range of photographic film products, Kodak had recently tried to turnaround years of dramatic declines by refocusing on the major markets of digital photography, digital printing and its planned sale of 1,100 digital imaging patents, which the company said accounted for about 10 percent of its total patent portfolio.
According to Bloomberg, insiders at the multinational company say it is still weighing its options, including a bankruptcy filing, to expedite the sale of its lucrative patents. In recent years, Eastman Kodak had apparently been forced to turn to this type of aggressive patent litigation in order to generate more business revenue.
“A bankruptcy filing “would be a mechanism to get this asset sale done,” said Kaufman, the only analyst among seven tracked by Bloomberg who rates Kodak as “buy.” He values the patents at $2.4 billion. Kodak’s sales have fallen by half since 2005 to $7.2 billion last year, with further declines predicted this year and next. The company’s losses since 2008 exceed $1.76 billion.
Kodak, whose origins date back to 1880, was founded by George Eastman, who introduced the Kodak camera eight years later, according to the company’s website. Kodak has shifted away from traditional film as consumers gravitated toward digital cameras.”
While the company is currently denying it is even considering bankruptcy, what is clear is that a Kodak bankruptcy can be viewed as a case study in how a Chapter 11 filing can help many companies adapt to a changing business landscape following our recent Great Recession. In the wake of the housing crisis, lingering consumer skittishness, drops in tourism and trade, and other economic woes, many industries have faced financial challenges, taking the businesses that serve them right along with it.
But Kodak, specifically, fell victim to more than just a uneasy economy. The photography pioneer is one of a long line of businesses that originated in a previous century and that recently suffered from an inability to reinvent itself in a newly-digital world that has long-since replaced the film the company is famous for.
If either the economic downturn or a fast-changing market has negatively impacted your particular industry, bankruptcy can buy you the time to reorganize your business or personal debt and get you back in the swing of things.
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