Kodak readying pinkslips

Amid a torrent of speculation among Wall Street analysts that as much as 17% of its work force could be cashiered, film and imaging behemoth Eastman Kodak is readying a corporate restructuring that will have little if any impact on its Hollywood-based entertainment imaging and film division, long one of the company’s most profitable.

The New York financial community was abuzz with speculation on the scope and direction of Kodak’s restructuring, to be formally announced Tuesday by the company’s senior management. The number of layoffs, it is thought, will range between a minimum of 4,000 to a maximum of 14,000 employees, with an aggregate cost (for early pensions, settling of contracts, etc.) of anywhere from $300 million to nearly $1 billion.

But there was virtually no speculation that any part of Kodak’s powerful and established entertainment imaging division would be downsized as part of the restructuring.

Instead, the company’s side businesses, such as its microfilm-microfiche production department and its photographic paper production plant near the company’s headquarters in Rochester, N.Y., are widely viewed as the most likely to fall to the downsizing hatchet.

There is also considerable pressure on Kodak executives to engage in a consumer film price war with archrival Fuji Photo Film Co., which has been undercutting Kodak on price for several months now, slicing into its total market share as a result.

Kodak has made no official response to the speculation, preferring to let the announced plan speak for itself.

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