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Kodak Agrees to $980M Creo Buy

Eastman Kodak agreed to buy prepress technology maker Creo for $980 million in cash, the two companies said yesterday.

Creo, Vancouver, British Columbia, is one of the world's largest makers of commercial print software, with 25,000 customers and $635 million in annual sales. If the acquisition were to be finalized, Creo would join the Kodak empire, the world's No. 1 maker of photographic film, which is in the midst of an effort to remake itself.

Internal conflict has rocked Creo recently as a group of dissident shareholders seeks to oust the company's management. Creo rescheduled a Feb. 10 shareholder meeting, at which a board of directors election was to be held, to March 29, at which time shareholders will vote both on the board and the Kodak acquisition bid.

In October, Creo announced that it would review its strategic alternatives. These included acquisitions, alliances and sales of company assets.

Kodak, which built its business on film, is transforming in response to the shift toward digital technology. On Jan. 12, it agreed to pay $817 million to become sole owner of Kodak Polychrome Graphics, its joint venture with Sun Chemical Corp. that supplied digital and conventional lithographic plates, digital color proofing products and graphic arts films.

Kodak also has diversified into medical imaging technology, such as X-rays. The company expects revenue from digital products to outpace traditional film products for the first time this year.

According to Kodak, many customers use both Kodak Polychrome Graphics and Creo systems, so Kodak will become a single-source supplier for them.

Scott Hovanyetz covers telemarketing, production and printing and direct response TV marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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