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WSJ: Eastman Kodak readying bankruptcy filing

post #1 of 57
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A new report has rung an early death knell for once-mighty photography pioneer Eastman Kodak, claiming that the company is preparing a bankruptcy protection filing in case it is unable to sell off its digital imaging patents.

People familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that Kodak could submit the Chapter 11 request as soon as this month or early February. Under bankruptcy protection, the company would reportedly continue to operate while a court would undertake efforts to auction off a set of 1,100 patents.

Those 1,100 patents have become a beacon of hope for the former photography giant, which still has 19,000 employees. Kodak revealed last July that it was shopping its collection of digital imaging patents around in order to shore up cash for a turnaround. Chief Executive Officer Antonio Perez said in August that a number of people had expressed interest in the portfolio.

Insiders said Kodak had unsuccessfully petitioned hedge funds to borrow money to stay afloat while waiting for the patents to sell. The company has also reportedly talked to banks about $1 billion in financing that it would need during bankruptcy proceedings.

Kodak had originally hoped for a settlement of more than $1 billion in royalties from Apple and Research in Motion by way of a lawsuit with the International Trade Commission. However, a final ruling for that suit has been delayed until September 2012.

At this point, however, it's not clear whether Kodak will survive until next September. The company had just $862 million in reserves at the end of the third quarter of 2011 after losing $222 million during the period. For his part, Perez projected that Kodak would round out the fourth quarter with $1.4 billion in the bank.

One analysis from last August valued Kodak's digital imaging patents at $3 billion. At the time, the portfolio was worth more than five times the company's market capitalization. But, in the wake of the Journal's report on Wednesday, shares of the company fell more than 28 percent, leaving Kodak's market cap at just $126.88 million. Five years ago, the stock was worth over $25, a far cry from its current value of $0.47.

Kodak's decline has drawn comparisons to other companies that floundered during the transition to the digital age. The report noted the fates of Polaroid, Borders and Blockbuster, all of which were unable to adapt to new business models.

Former employees said Kodak was the Apple or Google of its time. "We had this self-imposed opinion of ourselves that we could do anything, that we were undefeatable," said Robert Shanebrook, the company's former worldwide product manager for professional photographic film.

As sales of film dried up, Perez attempted to pivot the company to focus on printers and printer ink. However, Kodak has consistently lost money under his leadership and has achieved just a 2.6 percent share of the printer market.
post #2 of 57
Buy the patents that you like, Apple. Oh, and snap up that light field camera company and start a ninth technology revolution, this time in photography.

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post #3 of 57
Chapter 11 or 13?
post #4 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Buy the patents that you like, Apple. Oh, and snap up that light field camera company and start a ninth technology revolution, this time in photography.

The Creo division too. Apple should have bought that from Scitex in the first place!
post #5 of 57
makes no sense
why bid on patents when you could save big bucks by just buying the company or 51%

and save 2.8 billion dollars

hmmmm maybe the patents aren't relevant anymore???
oops big price drop
how management can destroy a company, etc nokia, rim kodak, aol, amazing

where are the company boards to protect against massive theft of value

just amazing
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post #6 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post

makes no sense
why bid on patents when you could save big bucks by just buying the company or 51%

and save 2.8 billion dollars

hmmmm maybe the patents aren't relevant anymore???
oops big price drop
how management can destroy a company, etc nokia, rim kodak, aol, amazing

where are the company boards to protect against massive theft of value

just amazing

Kodak is in the red more than $6 billion.

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post #7 of 57
Kodak came out with one of the very first personal digital cameras. I owned the Kodak DC-40 in 1996. They had a window there to dominate the digital camera market. Not sure why they didn't.

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post #8 of 57
Just wondering what 19,000 people do at Kodak? Take out the retail stores and that's more than Apple!
post #9 of 57
Time to make them an offer they can't refuse.

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post #10 of 57
"As sales of film dried up, Perez attempted to pivot the company to focus on printers and printer ink. However, Kodak has consistently lost money under his leadership and has achieved just a 2.6 percent share of the printer market."

I had no idea of that, and that's insanely ironic, as I had always been happy with every Kodak product I ever bought until I gave the ESP7 printer a shot. A complete joke. Went through three of them. From the poor quality of output to the random dying of the printhead to the clueless support in India reading to me off the same horrible FAQ I read a hundred times. It actually did save on ink, but that's because it was always on the fritz. And as a bonus, it made scans that required 15 minutes in Photoshop to look like the original.

They turned their attention towards printers? Really? Who was guiding THAT ship?
post #11 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsenka View Post

The Creo division too. Apple should have bought that from Scitex in the first place!

What in the world would Apple have done with Creo??? Creo hasn't gotten Kodak anywhere since the acquisition other than deeper into another dieing market (print). One of Apple's strengths in recent times is the ability to focus its ability in very few areas. Kodak on the other hand is all over the place which has been killing them ever since the decline of film.
post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlandd View Post

They turned their attention towards printers? Really? Who was guiding THAT ship?

Kodak CEO Antonio Perez (who happened to spend 5 years as HP's President and CEO of inkjet imaging business).

http://www.kodak.com/ek/US/en/About_...io_M_Perez.htm
post #13 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Chapter 11 or 13?

Chapter 11, reorganization. Assuming it happens. If they go Chapter 11, the September deadline is likely meaningless as the court has the power to stave off creditors for as long as it takes. In fact if they would runout of operating cash before they could raise the cash they need to go forward, then Chapter 11 is exactly what they need and is the reason for them to do it. However... in bankruptcy all common stock equity is typically wiped out.
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post #14 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Time to make them an offer they can't refuse.

Probably too late, see above. Unless someone could engineer a friendly takeover in a hurry, anyone interested in Kodak's assets will soon be making their offers to the bankruptcy court.
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post #15 of 57
Looks like February will be a "kodak moment" ba dum tsch.

Guess that's the end of that phrase
post #16 of 57
Kodak is dead. They will end up just like The Sharper Image. Tons of crap tech sold under a license.
You'll find plenty of Kodak s*** at TJ Maxx real soon.
post #17 of 57
Bunch of youngsters around here, it seems. Proves the axiom yet again that the one thing jaded Americans like more than a rags to riches story is a riches to rags story. This is actually a sad time. It wasn't that long ago when the name Kodak was synonymous with photography. It's stunning how they could have gone so wrong. Only twenty years ago, not only were they dominant in film photography, they were cutting-edge pioneers in digital photography. The first professional digital camera back came from them, as did some of the first consumer digital cameras, although I was very leery of paying over $1000 for mere 640x480 resolution. Still, I like to remember the salad days of the company, with their Super 8 movie cameras, Instamatics and their memorable commercials, including the one that brought us Paul Anka's "Times of Your Life."
post #18 of 57
It wasn't even 20 years ago, more like 7-8 they were the leading developer of the digital processing units, professional grade cameras used.
Sadly, all this digital revolution has done to the concept of professional photography is kill it. Camera prices are at all time high's, they change the "Professional" standard every 2-3 years... no one can afford to keep up with it... The publishing industry has been driven into the toilet also. It's insane. Heck National Geographic is struggling... as for main stream media, there is only so far you can run buying the cheapest stock photo's available.
with the death of media, dies the artists who made the media what it was.
This is more than a company dyeing. It's an entire industry, top to bottom.
sadly, this digital revolution, which started with such promise, has evolved into the fast road to the lowest common denominator. unfortunately that denominator is nothingness.
post #19 of 57
We are in the middle of the "digital disruption" that everyone thought was happening in the late 90s, only this time it's real. Lots of industries being replaced.
post #20 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by CurtB2 View Post

It wasn't even 20 years ago, more like 7-8 they were the leading developer of the digital processing units, professional grade cameras used.
Sadly, all this digital revolution has done to the concept of professional photography is kill it. Camera prices are at all time high's, they change the "Professional" standard every 2-3 years... no one can afford to keep up with it... The publishing industry has been driven into the toilet also. It's insane. Heck National Geographic is struggling... as for main stream media, there is only so far you can run buying the cheapest stock photo's available.
with the death of media, dies the artists who made the media what it was.
This is more than a company dyeing. It's an entire industry, top to bottom.
sadly, this digital revolution, which started with such promise, has evolved into the fast road to the lowest common denominator. unfortunately that denominator is nothingness.

The same goes for filmmaking, literature, art, music... that's just capitalism.

Also, the denominator can't really be nothingness. That would make it undefined.
post #21 of 57
Very tragic. Kodak is/was a huge benefactor to RIT when I was there taking a minor in photography.
They helped pay for many of the darkrooms that we got to "play" in. It was a wonderful time, and I hate to see it happen. Rochester was once so reliant on Kodak and Xerox. So many Americans grew up using Kodak cameras as their first camera. I personally had a wonderful little camera called the "Instamatic" It was maybe the first point and shoot? I just hope that Kodak can pull off some sort of miracle at the last moment. I would bet that even today Kodak film is still the best on the market I tried others in my Nikons, but they just weren't as good or as forgiving. They my go under, but they will never be forgotten by legions of RIT students.
post #22 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

Kodak came out with one of the very first personal digital cameras. I owned the Kodak DC-40 in 1996. They had a window there to dominate the digital camera market. Not sure why they didn't.

Distribution, quality, price, selection, never got into phones.
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post #23 of 57
I'm sure today's camera phones are not the final historical ultimate evolution of the camera.

In near-future sci-fi movies they often have 3d or 2.5d cameras. Or what about something else no one has thought of yet?

They just needed some research/imagination, instead of a switch to printer ink.
post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stourque View Post

Just wondering what 19,000 people do at Kodak? Take out the retail stores and that's more than Apple!


I was thinking the same thing. What do 19,000 employees do? That's crazy! Should be more like 1900. If that.
post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by massconn72 View Post

Very tragic. Kodak is/was a huge benefactor to RIT when I was there taking a minor in photography.
They helped pay for many of the darkrooms that we got to "play" in. It was a wonderful time, and I hate to see it happen. Rochester was once so reliant on Kodak and Xerox. So many Americans grew up using Kodak cameras as their first camera. I personally had a wonderful little camera called the "Instamatic" It was maybe the first point and shoot? I just hope that Kodak can pull off some sort of miracle at the last moment. I would bet that even today Kodak film is still the best on the market I tried others in my Nikons, but they just weren't as good or as forgiving. They my go under, but they will never be forgotten by legions of RIT students.

Generations of my family worked at Kodak and at one time that was a huge source of pride for me. Back when Kodak was a gold-standard name that was out there as a sponsor of everything important and noteworthy - the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the official film of [fill in the blank of the important event of the day].

Not only RIT, but so much of Rochester owes its existence and identity to Kodak and the benevolence of George Eastman. There was a time when Rochester=Kodak but fortunately that time has passed. Kodak's death has been so long in coming that it has given the community time to deal with it and diversify, from an economic perspective. A radio commentator here recently likened it to "Grandma" passing away: you've seen it coming and have prepared but it's still a shock when it happens. The ship sunk under Perez but the problems started decades ago when company leadership stubbornly believed that digital was a fad and film was where the money was.

Such a waste of a proud name and the proud tradition of a company that in its prime changed the world as much as - if not more - than Apple.
post #26 of 57
I hate to say this, but it seems to be another company that has suffered because of the iPhone, and other phones that have followed. The convenience of being able to take photos or movies at any time with your phone outweighs the professional features that stand alone cameras offer. Even Annie Leivobitz stated in November that the iPhone is "The snapshot camera of today" and praised the iPhone. When people ask her what camera she recommends, she says the iPhone 4s.

I had lost my own camera a few months ago while on vacation. When I returned home I was going to order a new camera online, but then I thought about how many times I actually used the camera and it was really rare. Only for weddings, or other special occasions. I use my iPhone 4 most of the time, so I decided to see how long I could go without having a dedicated camera and I haven't missed it at all.

I think Kodak is just the first to go. Other camera makers are sure to follow in a few years.
post #27 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post

makes no sense
why bid on patents when you could save big bucks by just buying the company or 51%

and save 2.8 billion dollars

hmmmm maybe the patents aren't relevant anymore???
oops big price drop
how management can destroy a company, etc nokia, rim kodak, aol, amazing

where are the company boards to protect against massive theft of value

just amazing

Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

Kodak came out with one of the very first personal digital cameras. I owned the Kodak DC-40 in 1996. They had a window there to dominate the digital camera market. Not sure why they didn't.

Basaed on an NPR story I heard earlier this year, the reason is because it was (is?) run similarly to Microsoft where there are competing teams. Although the digital teams were coming up with innovative things, the film side was still making the majority of the revenue so Kodak pretty much handicapped the digital teams with less investment and delaying product launches.
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post #28 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by CurtB2 View Post

It wasn't even 20 years ago, more like 7-8 they were the leading developer of the digital processing units, professional grade cameras used.
Sadly, all this digital revolution has done to the concept of professional photography is kill it. Camera prices are at all time high's, they change the "Professional" standard every 2-3 years... no one can afford to keep up with it... The publishing industry has been driven into the toilet also. It's insane. Heck National Geographic is struggling... as for main stream media, there is only so far you can run buying the cheapest stock photo's available.
with the death of media, dies the artists who made the media what it was.
This is more than a company dyeing. It's an entire industry, top to bottom.
sadly, this digital revolution, which started with such promise, has evolved into the fast road to the lowest common denominator. unfortunately that denominator is nothingness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanSolecki View Post

The same goes for filmmaking, literature, art, music... that's just capitalism.

Also, the denominator can't really be nothingness. That would make it undefined.

@DeanSolecki, That was pretty funny. But in regards to dying industries, this isn't happening, it's just shifting from the professionals to the common man. The internet and the digital devices we can now affordably purchase allow the common man to now make movies, produce music, become journalists, photographers, writers and artists. And the line between the professional and the amatuer is getting pretty blurred. Even this article was probably not written by a "professional Journalist" in the old sense of the term.

I really enjoy watching short films on Vimeo. Great stuff. I'm glad that this has happened, actually. I enjoy working with Digital Audio programs and Apple has just lowered the price of Logic Pro to $199. This is really affordable compared to other programs. It's great!

So the industries aren't dying, just the elite class of being a professional.
post #29 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Buy the patents that you like, Apple. Oh, and snap up that light field camera company and start a ninth technology revolution, this time in photography.



Even if Kodak turned to sorting out mobile phone cameras, it would be something. Imagine if they got a $10 profit component into the iPhone selling 100 million units a year. There's $1b a year profit.

No matter the improvements in smartphone cameras, the iPhone 4S still sucks at taking photos in low-light.

There's also a space above the DSLR cameras and below the low-end pro cameras for a high quality prosumer camera for weddings, amateur filmmaking and the like and nobody seems to be occupying it sufficiently.

Consider a 2K MFT camera with XLR, 64GB SSD (Apple could use their SSD blades) selling somewhere in the $1000-2000 region with Thunderbolt, recording to H.264 or ProRes competing with the likes of:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2010/5/4/panasonicagaf100

Those sell for ~$4000 though so maybe $2000-3000 would be a more appropriate range.
post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Former employees said Kodak was the Apple or Google of its time. "We had this self-imposed opinion of ourselves that we could do anything, that we were undefeatable," said Robert Shanebrook, the company's former worldwide product manager for professional photographic film.c][ View this article at AppleInsider.com ][/c]

Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

Kodak came out with one of the very first personal digital cameras. I owned the Kodak DC-40 in 1996. They had a window there to dominate the digital camera market. Not sure why they didn't.

Kodak was known for film but their cameras were crappy, cheapo stuff that were easily blown away by the Japanese.

Here's the thing, when the Japanese choose to manufacture a product, they aim to be the best. It may be a long term goal, but they work towards it. Likewise with the Koreans and the Taiwanese. Same with the Chinese, though we laugh at the "Made in China" crap that Walmart peddles.

Kodak was just perfectly happy to service the bottom end of the camera market with their crappy instamatics. When the digital camera revolution killed silver halide, cameras (rather than film) became king and Kodak had ZERO ability to compete in that field because they never sought to develop any expertise or excellence in it. So they tried to shift to printers --but that's also precision fine components manufacturing (rather than film which is more of a bulk chemical production process) and of course Kodak floundered.

The take here is that you cannot be a world class economy if you do not, as a matter of national priority, actively nurture and promote a vibrant, cutting edge manufacturing sector. The Germans do it, the Japanese do it, we don't. Because once you fall behind, it's very, very hard and very, very expensive to catch up.

Instead, we listen to Wall Street and all these Chicago School economists who proclaim that all industries are equal and it doesn't matter if we end up a nation that mainly peddles funny paper (i.e. financial services). They also recommended against Obama rescuing GM and Chrysler, funny they're pretty quiet about that success story.

So our brightest minds aren't out developing new technologies, designing products or running factories. They're in Wall Street trying to come up with the next ultra-complicated derivative that no one understands which they will use to again part us fools from our money. (Last year, 46, yes FORTY F*KING SIX PERCENT of Princeton grads got jobs in Wall Street!!! And they don't even have a B-school.)

That's why, unless we change things drastically, a generation or two from now we will become to China what the UK is to us now.
post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsenka View Post

The Creo division too. Apple should have bought that from Scitex in the first place!

Creo bought the Scitex graphic arts group, not the other way around.

The fate of the digital imaging division, whatever it's called now at Kodak (it's not called Creo), worries me more than just about anything else to do with this company. I would rather see it go to a tech company that's more involved with the enterprise than to Apple.
post #32 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Buy the patents that you like, Apple. Oh, and snap up that light field camera company and start a ninth technology revolution, this time in photography.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Kodak is in the red more than $6 billion.

So? Tallest's suggestion is a good one - although buying the company makes more sense.

Apple buys the company and closes all operations. Current market cap is $128 M - let's say Apple pays $200 M. If you are right about the retained losses, they can deduct them on their taxes - which would earn them about $2 B. Plus, they'd get the patents. I don't know what they're worth, but the estimate of $3 B suggests that at least some of them are useful.
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post #33 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

Kodak was known for film but their cameras were crappy, cheapo stuff that were easily blown away by the Japanese.

It is so easy to be critical of this strategy with the full benefit of hindsight, and it is especially ironic considering that Kodak's strategy of catering to the film market worked brilliantly for many decades. Keep in mind also that Kodak virtually created the amateur photography revolution 100 years ago, not by making great cameras but by make affordable, easy to use cameras, and the film to put in them. They held to this approach well into the era when the Germans in particular began to manufacture higher end expensive cameras. This is decades before the Japanese became a force in photographic equipment. Even then Kodak was the unassailed leading supplier of film and processing equipment. It was a virtually cornered market. They had no use for manufacturing high end cameras, and their failure to make them is not the reason for their present troubles.
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post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

So? Tallest's suggestion is a good one - although buying the company makes more sense.

Apple buys the company and closes all operations. Current market cap is $128 M - let's say Apple pays $200 M. If you are right about the retained losses, they can deduct them on their taxes - which would earn them about $2 B. Plus, they'd get the patents. I don't know what they're worth, but the estimate of $3 B suggests that at least some of them are useful.

I'm not sure I agree with the end result being a financial gain for Apple but I would rather have a polarid instant camera where my optical drive is. That 5.25" DVD slot would be great for the film to pop out.

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post #35 of 57
It's been a long time since I bought a Kodak product, but I mourn their decline. My first camera was a Kodak Brownie Starmite; the last, an Instamatic 304. Up until digital became the obvious choice for image-making, I continued by buy lots of Kodak film, especially Tri-X. I hope they find a way to turn things around, but progress can sometimes be cruel.
post #36 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Apple buys the company and closes all operations. Current market cap is $128 M - let's say Apple pays $200 M. If you are right about the retained losses, they can deduct them on their taxes - which would earn them about $2 B. Plus, they'd get the patents. I don't know what they're worth, but the estimate of $3 B suggests that at least some of them are useful.

As I pointed about above, is is very likely too late for anyone to buy Kodak through the equity markets unless they could engineer a friendly takeover in a big hurry. Kodak will soon be under bankruptcy protection. Someone could conceivably make an offer for the entire company to the bankruptcy court (this is how Sears and K-Mart got together IIRC) but it is no longer a matter of making a tender offer for the outstanding shares. The shares are in a deeply depressed state now due to the pending bankruptcy, because shareholder equity is very likely to vanish completely with reorganization in bankruptcy (see also, GM).
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post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanSolecki View Post

The same goes for filmmaking, literature, art, music... that's just capitalism.

Also, the denominator can't really be nothingness. That would make it undefined.

This capitalism sucks then... I can't believe culture is disappearing like that. It's still too early to judge, but when we'll be able to see the ravages the consumption society has done it will be too late.
post #38 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

This capitalism sucks then... I can't believe culture is disappearing like that. It's still too early to judge, but when we'll be able to see the ravages the consumption society has done it will be too late.

All life is consumption.

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post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

As I pointed about above, is is very likely too late for anyone to buy Kodak through the equity markets unless they could engineer a friendly takeover in a big hurry. Kodak will soon be under bankruptcy protection. Someone could conceivably make an offer for the entire company to the bankruptcy court (this is how Sears and K-Mart got together IIRC) but it is no longer a matter of making a tender offer for the outstanding shares. The shares are in a deeply depressed state now due to the pending bankruptcy, because shareholder equity is very likely to vanish completely with reorganization in bankruptcy (see also, GM).

It's not too late. If someone offers to buy the company, Kodak could easily stop their bankruptcy filing at this stage. Until they've actually entered the court's jurisdiction and actually filed something, they are free to run the business as they wish.
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post #40 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It's not too late. If someone offers to buy the company, Kodak could easily stop their bankruptcy filing at this stage. Until they've actually entered the court's jurisdiction and actually filed something, they are free to run the business as they wish.

Yes, which is why I said "unless they could engineer a friendly takeover in a big hurry." Kodak is evidently going to need bankruptcy protection quite soon because of their dire cash flow situation. Secondarily, the current market cap is meaningless as a way of calculating a takeover price.
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