Olympus chairman quits amid takeover scandal

Kikukawa resigns after attacking former boss Michael Woodford for revealing fees to advisers

The chairman of Olympus resigned yesterday as the company tried to draw a line under damaging allegations raised by its ousted chief executive, Michael Woodford. Yet the Briton warned the choice of successor would "just make things worse".

Now another regulator has launched an investigation into the precision equipment and camera maker's takeover activity, this time in its home market. Three of Olympus's largest shareholders have already called for an independent committee to scrutinise the $687m (£431m)in fees paid to a financial adviser on its purchase of the British medical group Gyrus. The fees, which are usually about 1 per cent of a transaction, were equivalent to a third of the deal price.

The Japanese company said that Tsuyoshi Kikukawa had quit as chairman, chief executive and president after a board meeting yesterday morning, although he will stay on as a director. His departure was prompted by stakeholder concerns over "the recent series of media reports and fall in the stock price", the company said.

Shuichi Takayama, who was already on the board and joined Olympus in 1970, was appointed representative director and president in Mr Kikukawa's place.

Mr Woodford told The Independent that the latest twist was "bizarre", adding: "Kikukawa has stepped down for an existing board member who sees nothing wrong with the huge fees paid to the advisers on the Gyrus deal. This is just making a bad situation worse."

He said the decision to appoint Mr Takayama "insulted the intelligence" of those calling for change and that it was a "ludicrous way to manage a major corporation". The company needed to"bring in a genuine outsider to replace Kikukawa, or reappoint myself," Mr Woodford added. "The appointment of a board member at the top does not take out the heat from the situation." He has previously pledged to return if the entire board is ousted.

Olympus's share price tumbled by a further 10 per cent yesterday after gaining 8 per cent on Tuesday. More than half of the value of the company has been lost since Mr Woodford, its first foreign boss, was fired less than a fortnight ago. The axe fell just two weeks into his reign as chief executive and eight months after he was named president.

Olympus's board said there had been a culture clash. But Mr Woodford denies there was any such issue, instead claiming that he was fired after raising "serious governance concerns" about four transactions, including the Gyrus deal. The questions over the deals have prompted speculation that Japanese organised crime syndicates could be involved. Mr Takayama yesterday denied that Olympus's advisers had any connection to such "anti-social forces", saying: "I am absolutely not aware of any such thing."

Now the Japanese Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission is scrutinising the deals, and deciding whether Olympus made adequate financial disclosures. The US FBI has already started checking the Gyrus deal.

Mr Woodford has also passed documents, including emails and an independent review of the fees, to the Serious Fraud Office in London.

Mr Woodford said: "These latest events will just damage the company further and create a lack of confidence among investors. This needs to be sorted out quickly. The future of the employees needs to be safeguarded."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam