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.

  • Anguished families make 'last visit' before Indonesia executions
    Anguished families make 'last visit' before Indonesia executions

    Relatives of two Australian drug smugglers on death row in Indonesia cried out in anguish as they arrived at a prison island Tuesday, in distressing scenes as they paid what could be their final visit to the condemned men ahead of their executions. Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin-trafficking gang, are among eight foreign drug convicts who are expected to face the firing squad imminently after authorities gave them formal notice of their …

  • Celebrities urge Australia PM to do more to save execution pair
    Celebrities urge Australia PM to do more to save execution pair

    Celebrities including Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush released a video Tuesday urging Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fly to Indonesia to help save two citizens facing execution, forcing the government to defend its tactics. "Bali Nine" drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan could face the firing squad within hours, along with others from Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and an Indonesian prisoner. Australia, Indonesia's close neighbour, has mounted a sustained diplomatic …

  • ISIS has not penetrated Phl – AFP
    ISIS has not penetrated Phl – AFP

    Security officials yesterday maintained that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has not penetrated the Philippines following an expert’s warning that the group poses a threat to the country. Abu Sayyaf, BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), private armed groups to our knowledge are the people making problems down south,” Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. said. The BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf have pledged allegiance to the ISIS but it remains uncertain whether they are …

  • Cerbo named national police intel chief
    Cerbo named national police intel chief

    Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina yesterday ordered the appointment of PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. as chief of the Directorate for Intelligence. …

  • Pump prices up anew
    Pump prices up anew

    Oil companies announced yesterday another round of price hikes with independent oil firms among the first to issue their respective announcements. PTT Philippines, the local subsidiary of Thailand’s biggest oil firm, and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, another independent oil company, were among the first to issue their respective advisories. Seaoil Philippines also issued its announcement. …

  • PNP to ease rules on gun permit processing
    PNP to ease rules on gun permit processing

    The Philippine National Police will simplify requirements for getting a firearm’s permit under the new gun control law, PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said yesterday. Espina said they are working to simplify the process to secure a license to own and possess firearms (LTOPF) amid complaints of excessive requirements from gun holders. Espina directed the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) to make it easier for legitimate gun owners to comply with the …

  • Mercy for Mary Jane: Pacman joins appeals
    Mercy for Mary Jane: Pacman joins appeals

    World boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao took time out yesterday from final preparations for his $400-million megafight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. to plead for the life of a Filipina on death row in Indonesia. Pacquiao, a national hero in the Philippines, added his voice to a chorus of global opposition led by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the executions of a group of foreign drug convicts, including compatriot Mary Jane Veloso. The eight-division world champion, who will face …

  • Phl condoles as Nepal death toll hits 3,700
    Phl condoles as Nepal death toll hits 3,700

    Foreign rescue teams equipped with heavy cutting gear and relief supplies were landing round the clock at Nepal’s only international airport on the outskirts of Kathmandu, which has been devastated by Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake. “We need more helicopters for our rescue operations in rural areas,” said Nepal Home Affairs spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal. In a statement issued yesterday, Aquino said a team from the Philippine embassy in New Delhi, India would travel to Nepal to meet the needs …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options