Kodak still shopping Kettering-based portion of business

Nine months after announcing it was selling its Kettering-based Prosper inkjet business, Eastman Kodak Co. has not pulled the trigger on a sale.

In its most recent quarterly earnings report released in November, Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke said the company continues to shop its Prosper inkjet business and added he hopes to have it finalized by the end of the year.

Company officials also said they received interest in Prosper during Drupa, a printing equipment trade show held earlier this year in Germany, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.

Kodak hired Sagent Advisors and DC Advisory to manage the Prosper sale, according to printing sources. Prosper, which had been one of Kodak’s growth areas, accounted for about $81 million, or 5 percent of sales in 2015, Kodak has said.

“The Prosper business has significant potential for accelerated growth,” Jeff Clarke, Kodak CEO, told the Dayton Daily News in March. “To achieve its full economic potential, Prosper will be best leveraged by a company with a larger sales and distribution footprint in digital printing markets.”

About 400 people work at Kodak’s office and labs at the Miami Research Park in Kettering and a major part of its business there is the Prosper inkjet program. The site is Kodak’s largest operation outside of its headquarters in Rochester, N.Y.

When Kodak purchased the Kettering inkjet operation, the products developed and manufactured there were called Versamark. After the acquisition, Kodak invested in new technology development in Kettering that is now known as Prosper.

The company introduced the Kodak Prosper 1000 Plus Press in February 2015, calling the product developed in Kettering “the world’s fastest black and white inkjet press.” The Prosper press can print at speeds up to 4,364 pages per minute, allowing book publishers to produce shorter print runs more quickly and profitably, officials said.

Founded in 1880, Kodak was a pioneer in the print and movie film industries. In recent times, the company has struggled as more people use digital products. Since 2012, the company has laid off more than 3,500 employees in the United States.