Olympus chairman quits amid takeover scandal
Kikukawa resigns after attacking former boss Michael Woodford for revealing fees to advisers
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Thursday 27 October 2011
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."
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
iJobs Money & Business
£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...