Sack Olympus board and I will return, says ex-boss

Ousted British chief executive urges Japanese firm's investors to cut out the 'cancer' at the top

The ousted Olympus chief executive, Michael Woodford, pledged yesterday to return if shareholders cut out the "cancer" at the company by removing the current board.

The Briton, who was fired just two weeks into his tenure as the Japanese firm's first foreign boss, urged investors to "take action and oust the board" by July's annual general meeting. He told The Independent: "Shareholders need to take the heat out of this situation and make things right."

Technically, Mr Woodford remains an Olympus employee, despite being stripped of his roles as president and chief executive at an emergency board meeting last Friday. At a hastily arranged press conference that day, the Olympus chairman, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, blamed a culture clash and Mr Woodford's management style for the board's decision.

But Mr Woodford believes he was ousted after writing a series of letters raising "serious governance concerns" about four deals carried out by the company. His final letter called for Mr Kikukawa's resignation.

Yesterday, he said he would return if backed by shareholders: "If I did go back, and there was a new board, this really could be a new beginning for the company."

He said he still had a great affection for the company he served for 30 years, apart from the current management. "There are so many good people at the company, who are hugely worried about what has happened there. I do not want them cut adrift."

The equipment-maker's shares continued to tumble yesterday, falling by another 10 per cent. Olympus has lost more than 40 per cent of value since Thursday. Its investors, especially in the West, have become increasingly nervous as the losses mount, and have held meetings about how to respond.

"It all comes down to confidence in the management," Mr Woodford said. "What the company really needs now is to stabilise, and it will be able to do that as soon as the whole board is changed."

On Monday, Mr Woodford passed a series of documents to the Serious Fraud Office in London. These included the six letters he wrote to the board and a copy of an inquiry by the PricewaterhouseCoopers into Olympus's acquisition of Gyrus Group, where a third of the cost went to its adviser Axes.

He also raised concerns about three deals for small businesses that Olympus completed in 2008 for ¥70bn (£580m). A year later the company wrote down a similar sum as an impairment.

A spokesman for Olympus said last night: "All [mergers and acquisitions have] been carried out under appropriate procedures and processes as well as proper accounting practices."

He reiterated that the company was considering legal action against Mr Woodford "as one of the options". On Monday, the former chief executive had welcomed such a move, telling Olympus: "Come to the High Court."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most