Lieven Gevaert’s statue is meters high: a sincere man, holding his right hand in a strange manner giving money to a person huddling to his side. The column they make part of is inscribed `Greatness´ . Two other columns with allegoric figures are inscribed `People´ and `Culture´. They are to be found in a nice residential street in Mortsel, Flanders. The flowerbeds at their feet have seen better days. The Agfa plant is just out of sight. No, Agfa is not dead. Strolling through another Mortsel street, art nouveau houses at your sides, the street makes a turn, unexpectedly making you find yourself within a chemical plant. An Agfa refrigerator truck passing you, the companies fire service going the other direction. Live is going on. In contrast to the late Agfa plant in Wolfen which was erected on the country side, and the Leverkusen plant which was settled within a chemical estate, this huge plant is found within the city, the Lieven Gevaert School facing the wall hedging the plant. Agfa is a company with still 14,000 people. But people are made to leave, 2000-4000. 1000 of them are part of those 4000 in Flanders. With emphasis on the coating facilities. Whereas industrial action could be avoided last year, part of those who are remaining got into (silent) action at the begin of this month on their salary and flexibility issues. A company in transition, Agfa has sold their so called consumer related branch. (Interestingly they stated that consumer films only made the lesser share of all of their film production.) This branch which was situated in Germany, with its major plant in Leverkusen. The outcome was, that this branch, bought by investors and some managers and given the name AgfaPhoto, after seven months became insolvent literally over night. This whole issue is still mysterious but after a lot of speculation now it’s gone to oblivion. Well, there was speculation about the price of the buy and the capital the new company had got. But it is beyound question that still to the day before the insolvency the company looked financially sound to everybody concerned. Which of course evoked a lot of questions. The public prosecutor did not see indicators for an investigation but speculation got on. Culminating not only in the statement that Agfa had profited by that insolvency, but that the management in Mortsel even planned the whole thing. A sickening thought… But as one could find arguments in favour of this theory there are as much against. The main one to my mind is that both the Mortsel plant and the German plants were logistically interwoven and a simple separation in consumer and non-consumer production is not feasible; a breakdown of the German branch would get Mortsel into trouble, as it did. (As a marginal note: The Cologne University made an exam where the economics students’ task was to comment the feasibility and profitability of a “strategic bankrupt” in case that was what Agfaphoto’s main investor tried to do. No moral critique involved…) The outcome of that insolvency is known to most members: the productive company, AgfaPhoto GmbH is dissolving, the mother, AgfaPhoto Holding, still lives on its very name. Part of the people who lost their jobs went to court. For some their whole company pension, arranged with Agfa prior to the splitting is at stake. A German court gave them right in first instance as they were forced in a way to changeover from Agfa to AgfaPhoto. The were installed as Agfa employees again. However Agfa is going into appeal against that decision. What is left of the German Agfa? Only the chemical plant, some minilab manufacture and the PET-film manufacture could be sold. The coating plants are going as scrap metal. Three employees left before the troubles and started an engineering company (Inoviscoat) specialising in special coating on non-photographic fields, using an emulsion making/coating set of Agfa’s R&D. As now publicized this small company advises Fotoimpex on their venture in small scale coating (on another such set from AgfaPhoto?). Agfaphoto’s last order, already in insolvency, was a huge one by Agfa to make aero films for them. Further all their stocks were sold out. APX masterrolls (and APX emulsions ??) were bought by Maco to be cut and branded Rollei Retro. And the Future? What has Agfa to give the traditionalists? Agfa is going to move from a chemical company to a company with a strong hold in the electronic sector, namely prepress and health care systems (“Imaging and IT-specialist”). To achieve this Agfa has just split into three sectors: Health Care, Graphics and Materials (1.9/1.7/0.7 Billion € sales including double counting). Materials is responsible for the production of different materials amongst them traditional photographic materials. The latter obviously for a part go further to Health Care (X-ray films) and Graphics (graphic films). The department most interesting to us is Aerial Photography as they are offering pictorial camera films. Obviously three of their films are sold by Maco cut to consumer sizes, rebranded as Rollei films: Infrared, Scanfilm and Slide Direct. Is Agfa making films? Yes. Basemaking. Emulsionmaking. Coating. X-ray films, graphic films, pcb films and micro-reprographic films. Paper is supplied, though I am not sure whether it is still coated, as their paper has been substituded by new, comparable types. As I heard that their cine colour emulsions were prepared at the Leverkusen plant and coated in Mortsel, it could be that until the breakdown of the Leverkusen plant they got all their colour emulsions from there. They had ordered a 5-year-supply! (based on recent production figures or on extrapolation?) of some of their aero films at the insolvent AgfaPhoto. The intention was to bridge a span of time to follow the aero survey market and decide then to make up a new range of films or leave that field due to the upcoming of digital imaging. (End 2005: "We certainly will develop new aerial films and will evaluate the market opportunity for these new products in 3 to 4 years”) In the begin of 2006 they uttered that they foresee many years of need for aero films and are willing to be competitive. This spring the aero department called out that “Film technology is alive and kicking” (a statement which in contrast to Ilford’s recent statement seems not to have reached this forum…) and (more remarkable) gave the purchasers of their reversal film a supply guarantee for 2 years, and further: “Aerial film business is a sound business for Agfa-Gevaert offering a long term perspective for users of analogue aerial camera systems.” As this department is used to have tight user relations, inviting them to Antwerp, in contrast to the late consumer department, they could be open for new ideas emerging from let’s say Apug. On the other hand an Agfa paper from last year ordered all departments to reduce their direct users contacts… All facilities and resources needed to produce films interesting to us should be readily available or could be installed in the Mortsel plant. Agfa’s size could give the reserves necessary for new ventures on a specialised consumer market, the same time it most probably would not yield the flexibility needed and further their diversification makes the film making business a source of revenue of limited share. On the other hand the splitting into independent sectors could give Materials more freedom. As last resort there would be the custom coating on their large and small scale coating lines.