Good news received directly from our friends at “New” Tetenal: the final pieces of paperwork were given their stamps of approval, and the company was officially registered last Friday March 8th 2019!
The “phoenix rising from the ashes” really is a metaphor that has been painfully overused. But I can’t help seeing this image when I think about the story of “New” Tetenal; the company is now taking its first steps after having been born from the ashes of its venerable parent, ashes of insolvency, unprofitable business models, and products aimed at the digital photo market. This bird has the distilled essence of the old Tetenal in its veins, with the important knowledge base and machinery needed to produce the products that are a necessity to the analog photography and cinematography community.
But the drama that preceded this rebirth had us at PhotoKlassik International wondering if old Tetenal was truly a phoenix or might just be a bird that had reached the end of its long life.
OK, enough of metaphors.
The rumors of problems at Tetenal started to circulate in October of last year, just after Photokina in Cologne. The first concrete news was that Tetenal was going through an internally administered insolvency but was basically sound. Unfortunately, the legal deadline of January 15th to finish the necessary restructuring included almost three weeks when it was impossible to do any business because of Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Despite concerted efforts by people from inside the company and outside consultants (including the editor-in-chief of PhotoKlassik International, Marwan El-Mozayen), by mid-December, no clear paths had been forged. When people regrouped in early January, it was with an impending sense of doom. There was no frantic scrambling to work out the details of a plan of action, there were no concrete steps being taken. Our sources in high-ranking positions within the company said there was an eerie silence and lack of communication.
Then the axe fell.
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Tetenal was declared bankrupt, most of the employees were fired, and calls were put out for “last orders” that would be processed until the company closed its doors forever on April 1st, 2019. No fooling.
Within 24 hours of the mass firings, a surprising report came; some employees of the photochemical division had banded together and formed a buy-out initiative. In a remarkably short time span, support began pouring in from all over the world. Analog photographers had been alerted to the situation by various sources in the community, including EMULSIVE and PhotoKlassik International, and sent messages to the hastily erected “New Tetenal” website. Calls came in from major Hollywood studios who were nervous that the chemicals necessary to develop their blockbusters shot on film might become scarce. Even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences called “New” Tetenal, worried that Oscars screenings (nominees are still required to submit their entries on film) would not be able to take place. It became clear that the photochemical division of Tetenal simply could not be allowed to fail.
Having sloughed off the ballast of old ways of doing business and unprofitable divisions within the company, the new version of Tetenal, which we have learned will keep its old logo and name, took off at a remarkable pace. Investors were found, certificates and permissions awarded, and last Friday, the new incarnation of Tetenal became an officially registered company, ready to do business.
They plan to make an official announcement on March 12th. In the meantime, the analog community can rest assured that their E-6 3- and 7-bath chemistry, as well as C-41, ECN-2 and RA4 chemistries will be available without any production or delivery interruption.
PhotoKlassik International will be telling the entire story along with further developments (pun intended) in its issue II/2019, which is planned to be released around May 1st 2019.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.
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Interesting how the Tetenal story parallels, in many ways, that of The Impossible Project.