Investors approve new board at scandal-hit Olympus

The ousted former boss of Olympus who exposed a $1.7 billion cover-up scandal threatened court action Friday after the firm's choices for a new board were approved at a heated shareholders meeting.

Angry investors shouted and peppered management with questions about the scandal, as one shareholder proposed that the embattled firm's whistleblowing former chief Michael Woodford be reinstated, which was later rejected.

During the tense meeting in Tokyo, executives rebuffed the Briton's demand to know why he was sacked six months ago, shortly before exposing a scheme that saw huge losses moved off the firm's balance sheet.

The ensuing scandal led to the arrest of former top executives at the firm, including the president, and hammered Japan's corporate governance image.

"Shame on you," Woodford repeatedly told management as a majority of shareholders approved the new 11-member board.

He later told reporters he would take the matter to court "to make this meeting illegitimate because they failed to answer the questions" about Olympus' accounts.

A hearing had already been scheduled in Britain for the first week of May, Woodford added, later saying he was also considering legal action in Japan.

"There are still a lot of concerns about the legitimacy and integrity of Olympus' accounts. And there is absolutely no trust with these people," he said, referring to Olympus officials.

Woodford said they had rejected a "fantastic" Japanese businessman with international experience whom he and foreign investors recommended to lead the firm. "(But) they don't want a strong, opinionated Japanese," Woodford said of the unnamed executive.

However the firm's shares jumped 6.36 percent on the board change to end at 1,280 yen on Friday, several months after the camera and medical equipment maker narrowly avoided a delisting from Tokyo's bourse.

Ri Hosoda, a shareholder and former employee, said he voted against the new board "because Michael was ousted", adding he "should be commended for what he has done."

Reiichi Goto, 62, said he and other investors cared more about the firm's shares, which have lost about half their value since the scandal broke in October, adding that he wanted the new board "to rebuild the company."

With the bulk of Olympus shares held by large Japanese institutional investors, who are typically unwilling to rock the corporate boat, the board had been expected to be approved.

But the nominees sparked anger among some foreign investors who argued their connections to major Japanese banks -- also Olympus creditors -- was a conflict of interest, while they also had little experience running the company.

The vote saw among others Yasuyuki Kimoto, a former senior managing director of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, elected chairman and Hideaki Fujizuka, a former executive officer of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, become a director.

Hiroyuki Sasa, a 30-year Olympus veteran, was elected president, saying on Friday that his mission was to restore its "destroyed brand image" and boost public confidence "as soon as possible."

"To achieve this, I think we need a thorough overhaul of the management system so that a problem like this would never happen again," he said.

Olympus has rejected the criticism over its board picks, saying six of 11 board members are "completely independent" and "have no relations with banks".

On Friday, Olympus President Shuichi Takayama apologised to investors, bowing deeply with other directors, before they stepped down.

"We, the board members, deeply and sincerely apologise to shareholders for causing you great anxiety and troubles over the postponing of (reporting) the loss," Takayama said.

Olympus' re-stated financial statements showed it lost 33.08 billion yen ($405.5 million) in the nine months to December as it accounts for the losses.

In March the company and three former senior executives -- including ex-president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa -- were charged over their role in the cover-up.

If found guilty, the firm faces up to 700 million yen ($8.7 million) in fines, while the executives each face up to 10 million yen in fines and a decade in prison.

The firm initially denied allegations its had used past acquisition deals and outsized consultant fees to move huge losses dating back to the 1990s off its balance sheet, but eventually admitted wrongdoing.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • 15 wounded in 2 explosions in restive southern Philippines

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least 15 people have been wounded in two separate blasts that hit a police camp in a restive southern Philippine province where Muslim militants operate, police said Saturday. …

  • 15 wounded in mosque attack at Philippine police camp
    15 wounded in mosque attack at Philippine police camp

    Fifteen people including 10 police officers were wounded in an attack on a mosque at police camp on a remote Philippine island long plagued by Islamic militancy, officials said on Saturday. Successive blasts targeted the mosque inside Camp Kasim on the island of Jolo early evening Friday -- an initial grenade attack followed by a bomb explosion less than 10 minutes later that was intended to target police who rushed to the scene, local authorities said. "It seems the (first) explosion was set …

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. However, there is no word yet if the Philippines will specifically ask Tokyo to join calls for China to stop its massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options