Kodak to sell Chinese plate factory

Kodak has sold its offset printing plates facility in Xiamen, China to Lucky HuaGuang Graphics, in a move that underlines Kodak’s continuing financial weakness.

Kodak’s Sonora X is a process-free plate that’s suitable for long press runs.

Kodak currently manufactures a number of offset plates at Xiamen, including the Sonora processless plate. Kodak has said that it is “committed to fostering an ongoing, collaboration relationship with HuaGuang” and that this includes licensing some of its intellectual property and sharing future developments of the Sonora plates with HuaGuang, which is one of the largest Chinese graphic arts suppliers. In addition, HuaGuang has its own research department that is capable of developing its own plates technology. Kodak says that the patents will be cross-licensed under certain circumstances in the IP agreement.

The Sonora process plate is one of Kodak’s key technologies and China is one of its fastest growing markets, with Kodak expecting to see further growth. Naturally, HuaGuang has undertaken to continue to supply Sonora plates to Kodak’s customers in the region. But even though this sale may offer some short term financial relief to Kodak I don’t see how this can be seen as a good long-term business move. 

Kodak invested some $50m back in 2007 to set up the Xiamen plant, which at the time was hailed as a state of the art manufacturing facility. A second plate line was added to the facility in 2010. Naturally Kodak will not reveal the price that HuaGuang paid for this. 

Zhang Tao, president of HuaGuang, commented: “Kodak is a well-known company in the prepress field, the new cooperation with Kodak can speed up the conversion of offset plates to process free plates in China, which will promote the process of green environmental protection in the printing industry in China.”

The sale is expected to closie in the third quarter of 2019, subject to the satisfaction of the usual conditions. This arrangement only affects plate supplies in the Asia Pacific region and won’t have any impact on European or UK supplies. 

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