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Kodak's plan to escape bankruptcy gets court approval

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Kodak (STOCK)
Kodak (STOCK)

Struggling photography company Kodak has made another step towards exiting Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Today, a New York judge approved a plan to emerge from bankruptcy, reducing its debt by $4.1 billion. Earlier this year, a court approved $844 million in financing for Kodak, and the company sold a hefty patent portfolio for over $500 million in 2012. As Kodak exits bankruptcy, it's offering creditors a much-reduced repayment on $2.2 billion in debt; to help finance its recovery, it also needs to sell $406 million in stock.

As part of its reorganization, Kodak has backed away from consumer products, ending its production of once-ubiquitous digital cameras and somewhat less ubiquitous home inkjet printers. Instead, it will focus on selling commercial printing tools, creating a core business that can operate on lean funding and a far smaller set of employees — Kodak has already gone through several rounds of mass layoffs.

Judge Allan Gropper, who approved the plan, was sympathetic to Kodak and its plight, seeing it as a symbol of larger problems with the national economy. "Kodak is one of the best-known names of American business," Bloomberg quotes him as saying. "Its decline in bankruptcy is a tragedy of American economic life. I've reviewed dozens of letters from Kodak shareholders asking how the company in which they invested fell so far."