Sale of Kodak DI – Top Story of 2013

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I apologize for being a few days late with this but I was busy enjoying holidays with my family, as well as dealing with living in the snowiest city in the U.S. so far this year: and yes, it is certainly coming down as I write the first draft of this post on Thursday evening (We’re at 70 inches and counting- more than twice as much snowfall as Anchorage Alaska!). Anyhow, in between holiday cheer and bouts of flu and cold, I’ve been going over my annual article index for 2013, which will get published along with my 2014 predictions next week.

Going over the index is a great way to review the top stories and events of the previous year, which is inevitably leads to a top 10 list or something like that. For 2013, it seemed there were certainly two stories that stood out above all others, and maybe eight more that I thought were fairly significant.Today I’ll share with you my top story in the document imaging industry from 2013 and follow up shortly with number 2, and the rest thereafter.

Without further ado, here is a summary of the top story we covered in DIR in 2013:

1. Kodak Document Imaging is acquired by the Kodak U.K. Pension Plan (KPP).

In a deal that was announced in May 2013, one of the leading players in our market was sold to an organization that is roughly the equivalent of an equity investor, but with a longer-term vision. Not coincidentally, KPP, which operates independently of Eastman Kodak, also happened to be Eastman Kodak’s largest unsecured creditor. KPP agreed to pay Eastman Kodak $650 million in cash and non-cash considerations for DI and Kodak Personalized Imaging (PI), which combined generated $1.46 billion worth of profitable revenue in 2012. As part of the deal, Eastman Kodak was also relieved of $2.8 billion in claims that KPP had made against the bankrupt organization. So, in all Eastman Kodak received a potential net $3.45 billion for the two businesses, which KPP renamed Kodak Alaris, when the sale was completed in early September.

This brought to an end a saga which began in early 2012, when after months of rumors, Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy. Originally, DI was positioned as a “core business” that Eastman Kodak would hang on to help fund its emerging “growth businesses.” That changed in August when Eastman Kodak realized it needed to sell more assets to pay off its creditors and get them to agree to the terms of its bankruptcy. Per bankruptcy laws, a formal process was put in place for selling DI that included accepting a “stalking horse” bid that would serve as a starting point in an auction.

The stalking horse bid came in April from Japanese manufacturer Brother, which offered $210 million, plus the assumption of $67 million worth unfulfilled service contracts for DI. However, that bid was trumped less than two weeks later by KPP’s much higher bid for both DI and PI.

Just a few weeks after the sale to KPP was closed, the recently renamed Kodak Alaris DI put on its second annual Global Directions educational conference, where the keynote was noted author and futurist, and current Google Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweil. The event focused on a more software-centric future for Kodak DI. “In five years, we’d like to have at least one third of our revenue coming from software,” said Tony Barbeau, DI VP, products and services. “It could be higher depending on how much investment the organization makes. We could possibly choose to complement our organic growth through acquisition.”

Barbeau and most of the Kodak DI management team, including President Dolores Kruchten, stayed on through the acquisition, so we don’t expect any major shake-ups in the way DI will be doing business going forward. That said, everyone in the organization seemed relieved and somewhat elated that the sale to KPP was completed. They are looking forward to the opportunity to run free of the burden of their failing parent and the increased nimbleness and aggressiveness their new position should bring. We expect more exciting news from Kodak Alaris DI in 2014, but we’re not sure if it can top the exciting events of 2013.

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