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Kodak sells patents for $525-million

Posted at: 12/19/2012 8:26 AM
Updated at: 12/19/2012 7:22 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

Good news for Kodak – the company has sold its digital patents for $525-million. The company needed to sell the patents to emerge from bankruptcy protection and that is generally good news for Kodak employees. The impact on the tens of thousands of Kodak retirees in Rochester, however, will be negligible.

The sale of Kodak digital patents was necessary -- one of the keys in the bankruptcy protection plan.

Kodak analyst George Conboy calls it bittersweet day. “It's great to get the patents done bitter sweet in that the patents are being sold at much less that what Kodak had hoped to get.”

One of 12 buyers is Fuji film -- Kodak’s arch rival -- a film company that made the jump to digital. Conboy said, “Kodak is selling them because they never made that leap.”

So what happens now? Kodak has to solve it's pension problem in Britain -- that's a 600 to 900-million problem. Conboy says the sale of the patents can help cover that. He says the patent sale will help kodak emerge from bankruptcy protection and not get liquidated.

But Conboy says there may not be much left of the public company. “Our expectation is that Kodak’s common stock will be worth close to zero when the bankruptcy is finished. You can buy it today for $0.20 but like so many things you get what you pay for.”

Conboy called the sale price of the patents a nuisance value. He says the companies that bought them aren't going to use them -- they already have the technology. He says they're trying to avoid lawsuits and one way to do that is to own the patents.

Kodak CEO Antonio Perez released a statement saying it’s a “major milestone” for the company. He is still predicting what he calls a “successful emergence in the first half of next year.”

Perez says Kodak remains a major center of invention and innovation.