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Minnesota family takes over Polaroid

The Pohlad family, owners of the Minnesota Twins and one of the state's wealthiest families, announced that it gained majority ownership of the long-troubled Polaroid corporation in a $70 million deal. A federal bankruptcy judge approved the selling of a partial ownership interest to the Pohlads and an unidentified partner. The Pohlads, through its Marquette Companies, also obtained ownership from earlier investors in Polaroid for control of approximately 65 percent of the company.

The Marquette Companies said that it engaged in the purchase for strategic growth opportunities, to obtain an iconic brand with a working licensing model and because it is a well-managed local company. Polaroid anticipates that the transaction will add stable capital from one of Minnesota's family-owned businesses for a long-term period. The transaction was completed on Dec. 22.

Polaroid dropped from its status as a once-mighty corporation that produced iconic and ground-breaking products. It once employed thousands, but now has only a few dozen workers at its Minnetonka headquarters and a few other facilities. Polaroid was especially well-known for innovating film-based instant photography.

The rising prevalence of digital photography and poor corporate governance at Polaroid were factors in its downfall. It was once owned by a businessman, Tom Petters, who was later convicted for a Ponzi scheme. Polaroid became part of the PettersGroup Worldwide business portfolio in 2005 after it filed for its first bankruptcy.

The company again filed for bankruptcy in 2008 after Petters' troubles mounted. However, Polaroid began its current brand-licensing approach which continued under subsequent owners from Boston, Chicago and Toronto.

Polaroid had some successes such as a tiny consumer camera, the Polaroid Cube, and a marketing alliance with Taylor Swift. It still emphasizes its famous instant photography.

Legal assistance can help lead to successful asset purchases and business expansion, like the Polaroid deal. Prompt advice can help assure that these mergers and acquisitions are profitable and comply with the law.

Source: Pioneer Press, "Minnesota's Pohlads acquire Polaroid majority stake," Dec. 27, 2014

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