Kodak chief executive Jeff Clarke has stepped down from his role with immediate effect in a surprise move.
Clarke has been replaced by chairman Jim Continenza who becomes executive chairman of the business and will take over the responsibilities of CEO.
Clarke joined Kodak five years ago in March 2014, six months after the group emerged from chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In a Kodak statement announcing the changes, Clarke said his departure was by mutual agreement.
He said: “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.”
Kodak announced it had agreed to sell its fast-growing Flexographic Packaging Division at the end of last year in a deal worth up to $390m (£300m). The deal is set to be completed during the first half of this year.
Continenza has been chairman since 2013. He said was thrilled about his new role, and thanked Clarke for his contribution: “I look forward to helping Kodak build long-term value for shareholders as we continue to deleverage our balance sheet, increase operational efficiencies, and maximise 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.”
He said the business would “continue to execute on previously-announced initiatives”, including: completing the sale of the flexo division; efficiency actions that will improve liquidity and deliver savings of $40m a year; driving sales in key growth areas such as Sonora plates, high-speed inkjet, workflow and brand licensing; and continuing to grow its motion picture film business.
Clarke had a base salary of $1m with the potential to double that if certain performance targets were met, along with share options and cash awards contingent on the financial performance of Kodak. He is leaving the company one year earlier than the terms outlined in his current employment contract.
Kodak will announce its 2018 results next month. The business had sales of $1.5bn in 2017, and had ambitions to achieve sales of between $1.5bn-$1.6bn in 2018, with operational EBITDA of $60m-$70m.
The firm’s share price was at $3.03 when the New York Stock Exchange closed yesterday, before the announcement about Clarke’s departure. (52-week high: $6.88, low: $2.20.)
Philippe Katz is joining the business to fill the board seat vacated by Clarke. He is a partner at investment firm United Equities Commodities.