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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Digital threat claims Kodak chief
Daniel Carp (left) and Antonio Perez
Daniel Carp (left) is leaving to make way for Antonio Perez
Eastman Kodak has announced that its chief executive Dan Carp is to stand down in June, to be replaced by his number two Antonio Perez.

The news comes as the US camera and film giant struggles to make the transition from traditional to digital photography.

Kodak posted a $142m (76m) loss for the first quarter, hit by a faster than expected drop in print film sales.

Analysts say Mr Carp, 57, was not quick enough to adapt to the digital future.

While he has successfully shut factories making traditional film and cut 15,000 jobs, they say Mr Carp should have carried out the actions much earlier.

Expected change

Mr Perez, 59, was handpicked by Mr Carp in April 2003 from Hewlett-Packard.

Antonio has the leadership and commitment to power this through and its right to turn it over to him
Outgoing Kodak boss Dan Carp

Mr Carp will remain chairman until he retires in January 2006, when Mr Perez will also take on that role.

Analysts say Mr Perez is better suited to continue Kodak's turnaround efforts.

"We are not surprised by this move, he [Mr Perez] wasn't just the deputy carrying out Carp's vision, he was part of that vision," said analyst Jamelah Leddy of McAdams, Wright, Ragen.

"[His] digital focus is what Kodak needs and he has the background...and drive to effectively lead Kodak through its transition to becoming a digital company."

'Bumpy road'

Mr Perez faces a difficult challenge when he takes over the top seat.

Kodak digital camera and printer
Kodak's switch to digital cameras has not been seamless

While Kodak enjoyed a 42% rise in digital camera sales last year, and is the market leader in the US, its sales of traditional film were down 30% in America.

"We knew there would be bumps in the road and we hit one in the first quarter, but this [the change at the top] is not about that," said Mr Carp.

"Antonio has the leadership and commitment to power this through and it is right to turn it over to him."

Mr Perez said he would be seeking to roll out the latest ranges of Kodak digital products.

"The company is on the path that they need to go on, and they are executing the best that they can," said analyst Christopher Carosa of Carosa, Stanton & DePaolo Asset Management.

"Antonio is a dynamic guy that everyone is very excited about."

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