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Olympus Says Gyrus Acquisition Fees Hid Past Losses: Timeline

Olympus Corp. said it used fees paid to advisers on the 2008 takeover of Gyrus Group Plc and others to hide losses from investments in the 1990s. The Japanese camera maker funneled the payments to several investment funds to cancel unrealized losses kept off its financial statements, according to a company statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange today. The following timeline chronicles the major events leading to today’s announcement.

Oct. 14, 2011: Michael C. Woodford is fired as president and chief executive officer by Olympus after questioning $687 million in advisory fees for the Gyrus deal.

Oct. 17, 2011: Woodford meets with U.K. Serious Fraud Office on previous acquisitions by the world’s biggest maker of endoscopes.

Oct. 19, 2011: Olympus says it paid $687 million to advisers for its acquisition of Gyrus. A day earlier, it said the fees totaled $391 million.

Oct. 20, 2011: Nippon Life Insurance Co., the largest shareholder of Olympus, Southeastern Asset Management Inc. and Harris Associates LP ask the company to respond to investors’ concerns about the takeover payments.

Oct. 21, 2011: Olympus says it will form an independent committee, including attorneys and accountants, to investigate past acquisitions.

Oct. 24, 2011: Olympus says Woodford used his position to leak “company secrets” by questioning advisers’ fees and that he aims “to ruin the credibility” of the company.

Oct. 26, 2011: Tsuyoshi Kikukawa resigns as chairman and president, and Shuichi Takayama succeeds him as president. Woodford meets with the FBI on Olympus acquisitions.

Oct. 27, 2011: Japan’s Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission says it will monitor the findings of Olympus’ independent committee.

Nov. 1, 2011: Olympus selects former prosecutors as members of an independent committee to investigate past acquisitions.

Nov. 4, 2011: Olympus says it will delay the scheduled Nov. 8 release of second-quarter earnings.

Nov. 8, 2011: Olympus says it hid losses by paying inflated fees to advisers on the 2008 acquisition of Gyrus. The Tokyo Stock Exchange says it may move Olympus shares to a watch list for possible delisting.

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