Kodak and Wang to form imaging powerhouse

Kodak and Wang to form imaging powerhouse

By Gerard Knapp

Following months of speculation, Kodak has agreed to purchase the software business of Wang for US$260 million cash.

The agreement, announced on January 29, is still subject to regulatory approval which could take two months.

The Wang software business will operate as a separate Kodak subsidiary to be headed by Bob Weiler, Wang's current president.

The combination of Wang's software expertise and Kodak's imaging and storage technology will create the largest single company providing imaging and workflow solutions, said Gary Cook, manager of Wang Software in Australia. Mr Cook described the merger as a "seminal event" in the imaging industry.

He said while Wang, IBM and FileNet were rated by IDC as the leaders in imaging, Kodak is by far the largest with revenues of over $1 billion in imaging alone.

Locally, it appears that Wang will increase its staff, given the resources and "deep pockets" of the new parent company, Mr Cook added. "We definitely won't be losing people."

Patrick Turner, marketing manager for Kodak's Business Imaging Systems division in Australia, said the acquisition "completes our strategic portfolio in the software area. It provides a platform for us to build our future".

Wang's arrangement with Microsoft (where a Wang imaging viewer comes with Windows 95) "gets us to the desktop in a way that no-one can compete with".

He said "it is our intent to dominate this marketplace. The acquisition allows us to go forward with this strategy".

Meanwhile, Kodak has announced a new alliance with leading US outsourcer First Data Corporation. The strategic alliance will see First Image, a subsidiary of First Data Corporation, assume the management of Kodak's computer output to microfilm (COM) 500-plus customer base in the US.

At the same time, Kodak will provide the hardware, software, media and releated services to current and prospective clients of First Image. So far, First Image has completed the conversion of its 51 data centres in the US to Kodak film and chemistry. First Image is said to be the leading outsource provider of integrated document services in the US, with more than 7000 clients.

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