A major change at Eastman Kodak. The company announced late Wednesday afternoon that after nearly five years as CEO, Jeff Clarke is stepping down from that role.
In a statement, "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."
On Twitter, Clarke said that “Running Kodak was not a job, it was a privilege. Over the long term the most lasting impact I believe we made is keeping the last movie film factory open and closing a 100 year old coal plant.”
He also tweeted that, “There was heavy lifting in the job, we made a lot of progress and working with the people of Kodak made it all worthwhile everyday.”
Kodak says that the current Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors, Jim Continenza, will now also assume the role of Executive Chairman, meaning that he will also take over the responsibilities that Clarke had. Kodak does not plan to hire someone else to fill the CEO job.
Continenza said that, "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."
Kodak says it will continue to focus on the company’s strategic initiatives including moving through with the sale of the Flexographic Packaging Division, and putting an emphasis on growth areas in commercial packaging and printing, as well as its commitment to growth in motion picture film.
Kodak has also been working to be more efficient and improve liquidity.
Continenza has been Chairman of the Board since 2013, and the company says he has led Kodak’s efforts to drive growth. Kodak’s statement says that Continenza has guided several leading, innovative technology companies through transformations.
Kodak has faced challenges in its efforts to grow revenues and profits since it came out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy several years, and has focused mainly on commercial printing and packaging. Last fall, when the comapny announced earnings, it had to file a required notice saying that it would have difficulty "continuing as a going concern," if it can't take the necessary steps to meet its debt obligations.
Kodak announced last November that the Flexographic Packaging division would be sold to a London-based private equity firm, Montagu Private Equity. Kodak expects to gain up to $390 million from the sale, and it will use the proceeds to pay down outstanding debt.