Kodak (KODK) taps Orbitz chairman as next CEO

Struggling Kodak, which emerged from bankruptcy last fall, will rebuild itself under a new tech-savvy chief executive, Jeff Clarke. Kodak spun off its consumer photography operation last year, but Clarke hasn't indicated yet where he's taking the company, 

David Duprey/AP/File
Eastman Kodak Co. named Jeff Clarke, a tech veteran and former Orbitz chairman, as its next chief executive. Kodak, once famous for its photography business, emerged from bankruptcy last year.

On Wednesday, Kodak tapped former Orbitz chairman and tech veteran Jeff Clarke as its new chief executive officer, after emerging from bankruptcy a year ago.

Mr. Clarke takes charge of a company that was once synonymous with consumer photography and has struggled to find a foothold in a world where cameras in smartphones are common. As part of its restructuring effort, Kodak has spun off its consumer and imaging business and is now focused on commercial printing, touch-screen technology, and other commercial digital imaging service.

Clarke's résumé is heavy on tech – his background includes stints at CA Technologies, HP, and Compaq – and suggests that Kodak will continue its migration into information technology. On his first day, the new CEO gave no indication of where he might take the company.

 "I'm energized to join Kodak," Mr. Clarke said in  a video statement released on Kodak's website. "We have our challenges, and we'll work our way through them."

Clarke emphasized what he said was his open, accountable and collaborative management style as he plans to conduct evaluations of Kodak's products, operations, manufacturing, marketing and sales.

Under the terms of the three-year deal with Kodak, Clarke will earn a base salary of $1 million a year, plus stock options worth $1 million and restricted stock units worth a total of $3 million, according to Kodak's Security and Exchange Commission filings. He can also earn additional income from performance-based financial incentives.

The Rochester, N.Y.-based company's stock closed Wednesday down 0.1 percent, at $27.20 per share. The company posted a $21 million loss in the third quarter of 2013 on revenues of about $198 million. It will report fourth-quarter earnings March 25.

Despite the loss, Kodak's financial footing was an improvement over the same period in 2012, when it reported a $312 million third quarter loss.

Clarke replaces Antonio Perez, who will stay with Kodak as a special adviser to the board of directors. Mr. Perez managed the company's bankruptcy proceedings in 2012 and oversaw Kodak's shift toward commercial markets, spinning off its consumer and document imaging businesses, plus selling off its digital imaging patents, according to Kodak.

Kodak continues to scale back operations. Earlier this month, the company said it would shut down its prepress plate manufacturing facility in Leeds, England, in 2016 at a cost of about $30 million to $40 million, as part of ongoing consolidation efforts.

Clarke spent nearly seven years as chairman of the board at Orbitz Worldwide, which offers customers online deals on plane tickets and other travel expenses. Orbitz made about $165 million in profit on revenues of $847 million last year.

Clarke also serves on the boards of the software companies Red Hat and Compuware. He has previous executive experience at the Manhattan-based airline computer services company Travelport, where he served as CEO from May 2006 until earlier this year, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

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