Kodak plans to buy printing plate plant

February 18, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

MIDDLEWAY, W.Va. - The Eastman Kodak Co. is trying to purchase a longtime printing plate plant in Middleway, roughly a year after the plant was acquired by a firm based in Vancouver, Canada.

The owner of the plant, Creo Inc., said it has entered into an agreement for Eastman Kodak to buy all of its properties, including the Middleway plant, according to a press release from Creo.

Before the sale can be completed, at least two-thirds of Creo's shareholders must approve the plan, said Rochelle van Halm, media relations manager for Creo.


The shareholders' vote is scheduled for March 29.

The sale also must receive some regulatory approvals, including approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission, van Halm said.

No problems led to the proposed sale, van Halm said. Saying the company was looking at the best way to serve its shareholders, van Halm said Creo officials have been studying different alternatives, such as acquiring other companies, selling off portions of the current operation or forming alliances with other companies.

It was unclear whether the sale would affect jobs at Creo's Middleway plant, van Halm said.

Some Creo products overlap with Kodak products, van Halm said.

"We don't know if they (Kodak) will need the excess capacity," van Halm said.

A Kodak spokesman also declined to speculate on how operations at the Middleway plant might be affected.

"To talk about a specific facility is premature at this point," said Kodak corporate spokesman David Lanzillo.

A woman who answered the phone at the Middleway plant Thursday said no one there could talk about the proposed sale.

About 110 people work at the Middleway plant.

Under the proposed sale, Kodak will acquire all the issued and outstanding common shares of Creo at a cash price of $16.50 per share, or approximately $980 million, according to a press release on Creo's Web site.

"The proposed transaction will not only generate immediate return for Creo shareholders but will also benefit our customers through the combination of leading prepress equipment and consumables," Creo Chief Executive Officer Amos Michelson said in the release.

Creo purchased the plant, which used to be owned by Spectratech, last February.

The Middleway plant has been a producer of printing plates and at one time was owned by 3M.

In addition to its local production of thermal printing plates for commercial, packaging and newspaper printers, Creo's product line includes digital cameras, software and imaging devices that use lasers.

Last year, van Halm said business for printing products was good and Creo wanted to offer as many printing products as it could to its customers.

Creo continues to make strong progress, van Halm said Thursday.

Companywide consumables revenue reached $27.9 million in the first quarter of 2005, a 109 percent increase compared to the first quarter of last year, van Halm said.

Creo also has manufacturing facilities in Vancouver and Israel.

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