UPDATE 2-Kodak to sell retail print, document imaging businesses

Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:23am IST

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By Nick Brown

NEW YORK Aug 23 (Reuters) - Eastman Kodak Co said on Thursday it plans to sell most of its consumer and document imaging businesses and shift its focus to commercial printing as it works to emerge from bankruptcy.

The once-dominant photography firm, already in the midst of auctioning off its digital patent portfolio, hopes to complete the sales by mid-2013, Chief Executive Antonio Perez said in a conference call on Thursday.

The company needs to raise nearly $700 million to pay back its creditors and exit bankruptcy, and initially hoped its patent sale would generate at least that much. But more than two weeks into its auction and still without a deal, the company may be looking for other ways to raise cash.

"For ensuring sufficient funding for successful emergence (from bankruptcy), the sale of these businesses is important in that regard," Perez said on the call.

Kodak went bankrupt in January, unable to adapt to the shift to digital imaging.

The businesses to be sold are Kodak's personalized imaging business, which includes most consumer products and retail printing kiosks, and its document imaging business, which makes scanners for enterprise customers.

Perez declined to comment on the progress of the patent sale. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that initial bids, including from Apple Inc and Google Inc , came in lower than expected.

The auction began on Aug. 8 and had been scheduled to wrap up by Aug. 13, but Kodak extended the deadline as talks continued without a buyer.

The newly-announced sales would mean that Kodak would emerge from bankruptcy as a different company than when it went in, with less of a focus on consumer and retail, and heavier attention to commercial, packaging and functional printing.

"You can't succeed these days without focusing in certain areas and putting all your money in areas that are synergetic with each other," Perez said, adding that he believes Kodak is "as strong or stronger" in the commercial space as in the consumer space.

Perez would not reveal the estimated value of the businesses to be sold.

The bankruptcy is in Re: Eastman Kodak Co. et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-10202.

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