Ex-Olympus CEO Woodford resigns company board, calls for new management, WSJ says

TOKYO (TR) – Former Olympus chief executive Michael Woodford, the man who exposed the camera maker’s accounting irregularities and was later dismissed, said he is resigning from the company’s board of directors to pave the way for new management and his possible return, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“The current board carries little or no credibility and is continuing to harm Olympus and its long-term future,” the Journal quoted Woodford as saying. The British national, who retained his seat on the board of directors after losing his post, said they are the wrong people to choose the destiny of the 92-year-old company, according to the paper.

Woodford said he will seek a return to senior management. Some shareholders are calling for his reinstatement, but the current management is rejecting his return, the WSJ said.

The Journal said proxy fights are rare in Japan as most local investors shy away from going against management. That paper says that may change at Olympus after foreign investors increased their stake in the company–with some estimates saying by more than half–after major Japanese shareholders such as Nippon Life Insurance sold their holdings.

Woodford said he was dismissed in mid-October after he raised questions about deals made by Olympus, including the $687 million fee it paid in 2008 to an adviser in the $2 billion acquisition of U.K. medical equipment company Gyrus Group Plc. Olympus later admitted to paying inflated fees for that deal and others in order to secretly cover losses dating back to the 1990s.

Olympus shares have fallen by more than half since the scandal first broke. Rating & Investment Information Inc. lowered the company’s long-term credit rating from A to BBB+ Nov. 8, following the admission of accounting irregularities.

Source: WSJ

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