Clarke quits Kodak

Jeff Clarke has resigned as CEO of Kodak, effective immediately. Kodak has already named Jim Continenza as the company’s new Executive Chairman. 

Jeff Clarke, CEO of Kodak, here speaking at the company’s Drupa 2016 press conference.

Continenza has served as Chairman of Kodak’s Board of Directors since 2013 and will also continue in this role. He stated: “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. 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 maximize 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.”

Top of the to-do list will be overseeing the sale of the Flexographic Packaging Division, which Kodak has been forced to sell due to its precarious financial position, despite the growing profits that this division was generating. Continenza will also have to push through a cost-cutting exercise that’s expected to result in $40 million of annualized savings and improved liquidity. And, of course, he will also have to fund the development of the UltraStream inkjet, which Kodak tried, and failed, to sell because it couldn’t afford the cost of development.  

Strangely, neither Kodak nor Clarke has suggested any reason for this move though it is extremely unusual for the head of a major company like Kodak to suddenly resign without any stated reason. 

Instead Clarke commented: “It was a privilege to lead Kodak during a time of transition and am pleased to leave the company in a position of strength after the execution of the agreement to sell our Flexographic Packaging Division. 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.”

Continenza is also currently Chairman of the Board of Merrill Corporation, LLC and Sorenson Communications LLC. He’s also the founder, Chairman and CEO of Vivial Inc, a privately held marketing technology and communications company, and he sits on the board of directors of Nextel International. So, it’s a good job that Kodak is just humming along like a well-oiled machine with no hint of any problems, and no need for a full time hands-on CEO. 

Clarke had joined Kodak in March 2014, taking over from Antonio Perez just after the company emerged from its chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 

Clarke has said that he will be available to the board to help ensure a smooth transition. Phillippe D. Katz, has just joined Kodak and will take Clarke’s seat on the board. Katz has been a partner at the investment firm of United Equities Commodities Company since 1996. He also sits on the board of directors of Berkshire Bancorp, Inc. as well as several private company boards.

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