In an completely unexpected move Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke last week stepped down from the company he has led since emerging from Chapter 11 five years ago. But while the move caught customers, staff and outsiders unawares, the board was able to announce that Jim Continenza, board chairman, was taking over as chief executive.
Clarke described his tenure in charge as a privilege but it has been dogged by delays to the deleveraging the balance sheet and improve its capital structure. A bid to sell the enterprise inkjet division failed, though the proposed sale of the flexographic plates arm is in train.
The incoming CEO has vowed to continue the strategy that he has signed up to. “I am thrilled to build upon our board's strategic vision and become an integral part of day to day operations as the company continues to execute on its previously announced initiatives,” he says.
“Importantly, I look forward to helping Kodak build long term value for shareholders as we continue to deleverage our balance sheet, increase operational efficiencies, and maximise the potential of our key growth drivers. I'd like to thank Jeff for his strong leadership and I'm optimistic about the future of Kodak given our team, our assets and the opportunities ahead.”
Clarke had identified enterprise inkjet, flexo plates, Sonora litho plates advanced materials and 3D printing as the opportunities that would reverse Kodak’s fortunes. However, while expectations that Kodak would quickly sign up partners for its Ultrastream inkjet system and see rapid take up of the Flexcel plate, neither grew as rapidly as hoped. The most last impact, he said in a tweet, was "to keep the last movie film factory open and closing a 100-year-old coal plant.”
Continenza is also chairman of Merrill Corporation and of Sorenson Communications and has been board member of numerous organisations. In a statement Clarke explained: “The board and I mutually agreed that now is the time to hand the reins to new leadership and I am confident that Jim is the right leader to take the company to the next phase of its transformation.”
The vacant seat on the board is being filled by Phillippe D Katz, a partner at investment firm United Equities Commodities Company and Berkshire Bancorp and sits on the boards of other private companies.
By Gareth Ward
Being CEO of Kodak was a privilege not a job according to Jeff Clarke who has stepped down after five years at the helm. He bought the company back from Chapter 11 but growth has been hard to find and instead Kodak has had to retrench and sell parts of the company.