Olympus Chairman Steps Down Amid Acquisition Scrutiny

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Amid more intense inquiries into the company’s acquisitions, Olympus Corp. said Wednesday that Chairman and President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa is stepping down.

The 70-year-old Kikukawa resigned citing investor and customer concerns in the two weeks since he fired Chief Executive Michael Woodford, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to media reports, Woodford said he was terminated because he questioned “steep payments” for acquisitions Olympus made before he joined the board and called for Kikukawa to resign.

The Tokyo-based company said Woodford had “largely diverted” from the rest of the management team and that the rift was causing decision-making problems.

At a press conference Wednesday, the camera and medical device maker said the move was to “take responsibility for the troubles caused to customers, business partners and investors over recent media reports that have sent Olympus stock plunging,” the Journal said.

The ousted chief executive of Olympus Corp. says the company isn’t doing enough to investigate a massive $687 million payment to mysterious financial advisers as part of a takeover, The Associated Press reported.

Woodford told The AP: “You need forensic accountants going in quickly, very quickly.”

Woodford, a 51-year-old British national, was among a handful of foreigners leading major Japanese companies. He became Olympus' first non-Japanese president in April amid a push to make itself more globally competitive, according to the AP.

Olympus shares, which have lost half their value in the last two weeks, fell 7.6 percent Wednesday, the Journal said.


Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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