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Kodak Names ConAgra's Sklarsky CFO
FT.com



Eastman Kodak, the struggling photographic film and digital camera maker, said that it had appointed a new chief financial officer to help take the company through the final stages of its multi-billion restructuring.

Frank Sklarsky, 49, joins Kodak from Conagra, where he was also the chief financial officer. His priority would be to manage Kodak's financial position as photography completes its move into the digital age.

Mr Sklarsky was chosen for the role in part because of his experience working for DaimlerChrysler and ConAgra, where he led a cost-cutting drives, Kodak said.

The rapid decline of the market for photographic film, as consumers moved towards buying digital cameras, has hit the company hard. Last quarter the company reported a loss of $282m, largely as a result of the costs of restructuring, and expanded plans for redundancies to 27,000.

The company expects to complete the restructuring by the end of 2007, and to return to profit by the end of this year.

Mr Sklarsky said that his plan for the company focused on "financial responsibilities first - the balance sheet - and then really trying to drive the cost structure, the restructuring and the transformation to digital."

Mr Sklarsky, who previously also worked for Dell, is the second recently appointed Kodak executive with a working background with a major computer manufacturer. Antonio Perez, Kodak's chief executive who was appointed just over a year ago, was a 27-year veteran of Hewlett-Packard.

Kodak said Mr Sklarsky hoped to free up money for new products based on the company's existing patents in consumer electronics, digital imaging and graphic communication.

Mr Sklarksy said he would aim to drive down costs in plant infrastructure, and in procurement and the supply chain. He said that the company also planned to dispose of its health photography unit by the end of the year - either through a joint venture or a sale.

Analysts said the company was responding well to the downturn in the traditional chemical film business.

"They are going through the transition slowly, however it is happening and business is improving," said Ivan Feinseth, an analyst at Matrix USA. "Their stock is now very cheap."

Mr Perez defended the company's recent plunge into loss, saying the restructuring was vital to saving the business as photographic film dies out.

"We have said all along that the costs of restructuring were very high," he said. "And the plan we put in place a year and a half ago was certainly going to impact earnings, but it was something we had to do with those $3bn in assets we had associated with the film business....They they didn't have a life of 35 years, but more like 5-7 years."

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