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White House trade advisor blasts Kodak over handling of loan deal

Top of Kodak Office Tower houses falcon nest box.
WXXI Photo
Top of Kodak Office Tower houses falcon nest box.

A top White House official is blasting Kodak for how the company has handled a potential government loan to make pharmaceutical ingredients.

White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro made the comments on CNBC on Monday when asked about that $765 million federal loan that Navarro and other officials talked about last month for the Rochester company.

The loan was to help Kodak gear up to make ingredients used in generic drugs. But, after news of the loan was released, there have been questions about the timing of the announcement. Kodak's stock price, and stock's trading volume increased sharply before official word of the deal. Questions were also raised about stock options issued to some Kodak executives

“Based on what I’m seeing, what happened at Kodak was probably the dumbest decisions made by executives in corporate history,” Navarro said.

Navarro’s rebuke was a lot different from the hopes he had for Kodak when he spoke in Rochester last month.

“This is going to be the second act, one of the greatest second acts in American industrial history,” Navarro said on July 28 at an event held at Kodak Center to announce the potential federal loan.

But on Monday, Navarro told CNBC, “You can’t fix stupid…you can’t even anticipate that degree of stupidity.”

Kodak had no comment on Navarro’s remarks, and the stock fell 79 cents to $7.64 a share Monday.

The situation is being investigated by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and through an internal review by Kodak. In the meantime, the federal loan is on hold.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.