Kodak inkjet sale 'imminent'

Jo Francis
Monday, March 6, 2017

Expectation is mounting that Kodak will announce the identity of the new owner of its high-speed inkjet business alongside its year-end results this week, and a familiar graphic arts name is in the frame as the buyer.

Kodak has brought forward the announcement of its Q4 and 2016 figures by about a week compared with its usual timetable.

A source close to the situation told PrintWeek that a deal was "imminent" and "had now been agreed" and the purchaser was Xerox, which has long been tipped as a likely home for the business.

Xerox acquired French inkjet developer Impika in 2013 and the $11bn (£9bn) turnover group has stated in the past that it intends to grow its inkjet offering, both organically and potentially through further acquisitions.

Jeff Jacobson, who became chief executive of Xerox when the company split into two, declined to comment when asked about the Kodak sell-off earlier this year.

Kodak announced last March that it planned to sell the Prosper high-speed inkjet product line, together with its new 1,800dpi Ultrastream inkjet technology that is targeted at OEM partners.

At the time of the original announcement, Kodak chief executive Jeff Clarke described the likely buyer as having greater scale and go-to-market resources in digital printing markets, with “hundreds or possibly thousands” of sales and business development professionals worldwide.

In terms of likely trade buyers, this narrowed the field to a handful of possible purchasers, including Xerox. 

Clarke had originally hoped to complete a deal by the end of 2016, but the timetable slipped.

The sale has been managed by Sagent Advisors, an independent investment bank, and European corporate finance firm DC Advisory. The fact that Japanese investment bank Daiwa Securities has a stake in both firms also created speculation about whether there could be interest from a potential Japanese buyer.

The Prosper business had sales of $68m in the nine months to 30 September, and made losses of $26m. However, Kodak said that annuity revenues for the operation had improved by 41% in Q3, reaching an annualised run rate of $56m.

Kodak is retaining the legacy Versamark inkjet business.


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