Kodak receives $500 million bid for patents: WSJ

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Thu Dec 6, 2012 — A collection of bidders has offered Eastman Kodak Co. more than $500 million for some of its digital imaging patents, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The deal was submitted in the past few weeks and has not been finalized. The details of the bidders involved, aside from being made up of Silicon Valley technology companies and firms that specialize in buying patents, could not be confirmed, the Journal said.

 

Last month the one-time photography giant said it accepted an $830 million financing offer from a group of bondholders to help it emerge from bankruptcy. The financing was contingent on the sale of Kodak’s digital imaging patents for at least $500 million.

Kodak has been trying to sell its portfolio of 1,100 patents, which it valued between $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion, for more than a year, but any sale has been hindered by litigation over ownership of some of the patents.

The company, which had unsuccessfully tried to redefine itself as a consumer products seller, filed for bankruptcy in January, after years of falling film sales. It has said it wants to be out of bankruptcy by early 2013.

Kodak could not be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular business hours.

Kodak to seek more time for filing reorganization plan

ROCHESTER, NY., Fri Sep 28, 2012 – Eastman Kodak Co. said it will submit a motion to a bankruptcy court on Friday to extend its right to file a reorganization plan until Feb 28, 2013, and expects to cut 200 more jobs.

The company said earlier this month it would cut 1,000 jobs by the end of this year.

Kodak, which invented the digital camera but had trouble adjusting to the digital age, has already cut 2,700 jobs this year as it looks to emerge successfully from bankruptcy in 2013.

Bankrupt Eastman Kodak to cut more jobs

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Mon Sep 10, 2012– Bankrupt Eastman Kodak Co said it will cut 1,000 additional jobs by the end of this year and may cut more as it focuses on its commercial packaging and printing business.

Kodak, which invented the digital camera but had trouble adjusting to the digital age, was betting on an auction of its 1,100 patents to raise funds to repay money borrowed to finance its bankruptcy.

The company, which estimates its patents to be worth between $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion, received only sub-$500 million bids from investor groups, including Apple Inc and Google Inc, according to media reports.

Kodak has declined to comment on the sale and has delayed several times a bankruptcy court hearing during which it would reveal the details of the sale. The hearing on the sale was first set for August 20 and is now scheduled for Sept. 19.

If the sale falls flat, the company will need to find other ways to raise the money to pay creditors as it looks to exit bankruptcy by early 2013.

Kodak’s employee base has shrunk to about 17,100 at the end of last year from about 145,000 during the 1980s.

The company, which at one point employed more than 60,000 people in its hometown Rochester in upstate New York alone, did not disclose where the latest cuts would be made.

Kodak sues Apple, claiming interference in patent sales

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Tue Jun 19, 2012 – Photography pioneer Eastman Kodak Co. sued Apple Inc. to stop it from interfering with plans to sell a large patent portfolio, a significant part of its bankruptcy restructuring.

In a lawsuit filed on Monday in U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan, Kodak said Apple, the largest U.S. company by market value, wrongly claims to own 10 patents arising from work that the companies did together in the early 1990s.

Privately held FlashPoint Technology Inc also claims ownership through an assignment from Apple, which spun it off in 1996, and is also a defendant, Kodak said.

The patents include technology that helps camera owners preview photographs on LCD screens.

They are part of Kodak’s digital-capture portfolio, which the company said includes more than 700 patents for devices such as digital cameras, smartphones and tablets, and has generated more than $3 billion in revenues since 2001.

Kodak said Apple is the largest infringer of patents in that portfolio, and also a potential purchaser of those patents.

“Apple’s strategy has been to use its substantial cash position to delay as long as possible the payment of royalties to Kodak” and interfere with the sale, Kodak

Kodak sells online business to Shutterfly, patent sale pending

ROCHESTER, N.Y. –Fri Mar 2, 2012: Eastman Kodak Co. has agreed to sell its online photo services business to Shutterfly Inc. for $23.8 million, kicking off the bankrupt photography pioneer’s relaunch as a much slimmer company although a patent sale seen crucial to its turnaround may still be months away.

The once-iconic company that invented the hand-held camera has said it will quit the camera business and is expected to fetch $1 billion to $2 billion from the sale of about 1,100 digital patents, which is due to get under way by June 30.

A source familiar with the patent sale said the process was moving forward, but added that the completion was not expected anytime soon.

Complicating the prospects is a dispute with computer giant Apple Inc. over one of the patents.

At a hearing next week on March 8, a bankruptcy judge will hear Apple’s motion to move forward with its patent-infringement suit. Apple has asked the bankruptcy court to lift the automatic stay applied to pending litigation against Kodak when the company filed for Chapter 11 on Jan. 19.

Kodak said the deal with Shutterfly followed a “stalking horse” bid – a starting bid or minimally accepted offer that other bidders must surpass in a court-supervised auction – from the web-based personal publishing service.

Shutterfly shares rose 18 percent to $31.70 in extended trade, following the news. The stock had closed at $26.91 on Thursday on the Nasdaq.

Shutterfly said it will transfer Kodak Gallery customer accounts and images in the United States and Canada to Shutterfly, and will allow customers to opt out of the transition if they do not want their photos to be transferred.

Kodak Gallery – which enables users to store and share their own images and create custom printed photobooks, cards and albums – has more than 75 million users.

Kodak employee sues company directors over stock

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – An Eastman Kodak employee filed a civil lawsuit against Kodak’s board members and other fiduciaries of the photography companies’ retirement plans, saying they breached their duties as the company was spiraling toward bankruptcy.

Mark Gedek, who continues to work at Kodak, said in the suit that he is a participant in the Kodak Employees Savings and Investment Plan as well as the Kodak Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The board members and directors of those plans continued to sell shares to employees and invest in them ahead of the bankruptcy, he said.

Kodak filed for bankruptcy in mid-January, saying it would use the bankruptcy court process to try to sell patents and shed other assets to bring costs and revenue in line. Typically in bankruptcy, shareholders’ equity is worth nothing.

Kodak shares, which trade for 34 cents on the pink sheets, were trading at 55 cents on January 18 before the company filed for bankruptcy.

Financing plan for beleaguered Kodak faces obstacles: report

NEW YORK ― Hedge funds that have been in discussions with Eastman Kodak Co. to help shore up the company’s cash position, have cut the amount they are willing to finance, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The 131-year old company has been in talks for new financing with a consortium of hedge funds including Cerberus Capital Management LP and Highbridge Capital Management LLC, the report said.

While discussions originally centered on a package of about $900 million, the hedge funds recently cut the amount they are willing to provide to somewhere between $600 million and $700 million, the WSJ said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The report said that might not be enough to meet the company’s needs.

Kodak has been trying to sell is portfolio of 1,100 digital patents since August with the help of investment bank Lazard Ltd.

While the company is looking at other means of raising cash, unless Kodak closes on the patent sale or gets a large enough amount of bridge financing in coming weeks, it could seek bankruptcy protection during the first few months of next year, the report said.

Kodak had $862 million in cash at the end of September, down from $1.4 billion a year earlier.

Eastman Kodak may need patent sale, new debt to survive

ROCHESTER, N.Y. ― Eastman Kodak Co spooked investors on Thursday by warning it may need to raise new debt or complete a multibillion-dollar patent sale to survive the next 12 months, sinking shares by as much as 11.7 percent.

The photography company also posted dismal third-quarter results, with cash holdings down 10 percent from the second quarter, and it projected deeper losses this year as its new printers and digital cameras failed to gain traction.

Speculation that Kodak was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy flared at the end of September after the company said that Jones Day, a law firm known for working on restructuring cases, was one of its advisers.

Kodak has denied that it plans to file for bankruptcy, but gave a stark warning on Thursday about its liquidity over the next 12 months.

“The Company’s ability to continue its operations … is dependent upon the ability to monetize its digital imaging patent portfolio through a sale or licensing of the relevant patents and/or the successful execution of the alternative actions, which could include the issuance of additional debt, listed above,” Kodak said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Antonio Perez, the longtime CEO, downplayed the company’s warnings in the SEC filing on a conference call with analysts. He said the SEC requires all companies to identify potential risks and that it does not imply the company or its patent sale is in danger.

“These requirement statements should not be misunderstood in any way as dampening the optimism or ability to complete the sale of our digital imaging patent portfolio, which is very high,” he said.

Kodak hired investment bank Lazard in July to help it sell more than 1,100 digital imaging patents, which analysts have estimated could be worth as much as $2 billion to $3 billion.

It is not clear what interest there is in the patents or if they would fetch as much money as Kodak hopes, but the public cash woes may hurt the bargaining process, analysts said.

“They are trying to get market value but everyone knows they need to sell,” said Brean Murray analyst Ananda Baruah.