Short On Cash, Kodak Sells Its Sensor Business

Kodak, which has been struggling to make enough money to keep the lights on next year, has sold its image sensor business. The buyer is holdings firm Platinum Equity, which is also picking up a large R&D and manufacturing facility in Rochester. Kodak will continue to have access to (and presumably operate) the facility and staff, but who will ultimately end up with this piece isn’t clear.

The price was not disclosed, but I would guess it’s probably somewhere around $100-$200 million, based on the scale of the purchase and the company’s year end estimates and necessities. The details of the deal are also obscure, and will likely come out in a press release during the next week.

The question one asks, naturally, is if it’s worth this much today, that must be a cost the buyer hopes to recoup with some time and investment — and so why doesn’t Kodak make the time and investment itself? It simply doesn’t have the money. To compete with the likes of Sony and Canon in the sensor area, they’d need to be investing as much per year as they just sold the whole thing for.

I wrote a while back that it was time for Kodak to go invisible, focusing on IP and giving up the privilege of being a household name. Without their sensor business that’s probably not a viable option. On the other hand, as we don’t know the details of the purchase, it could be that they do have that in mind, but had to surrender ownership in order to fund the R&D necessary to take that position over the next few years. In that case Platinum would be more of a partner than a purchaser.