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
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before