Olympus Panel to Disclose Probe Into Acquisitions, Cover-Up

Olympus Panel to Disclose Probe Into Acquisitions
The Olympus Corp. logo is displayed on the company's digital single lens reflex (SLR) camera at an electronics store in Tokyo. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

An Olympus Corp. panel today will disclose the findings of its investigation into a series of acquisitions by the camera maker, which admitted hiding losses with inflated takeover fees.

Tatsuo Kainaka, a former Supreme Court judge and a Tokyo superintendent prosecutor, will meet the press in Tokyo at 3 p.m., according to a faxed statement from the committee. Other members of the six-person committee formed Nov. 1 also will attend.

The news conference comes seven weeks after the dismissal of former Chief Executive Officer Michael C. Woodford, who questioned $1.4 billion in takeover costs, including fees paid in the $2.1 billion takeover of Gyrus Group Plc in 2008. The world’s biggest endoscope maker admitted last month that former Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and senior aides colluded to hide losses dating to the 1990s.

The committee has interviewed previous executives, including Woodford, Kikukawa and Hisashi Mori, an executive vice president dismissed over his part in the schemes.

Olympus shares, which declined to their lowest in 36 years on Nov. 11 after the company admitted hiding losses, rose 8.6 percent to 1,185 yen at the 11 a.m. trading break in Tokyo.

Dec. 14 Deadline

Woodford, 51, resigned as director Dec. 1 in the first step of his campaign to take control of the company from the board that fired him Oct. 14. Kikukawa, former Executive Vice President Hisashi Mori and auditor Hideo Yamada all quit Nov. 25, a day before company directors were due to meet the president they fired.

Olympus is also forming two teams, led by President Shuichi Takayama, to improve corporate governance and business structure, the company said last week.

The company still faces possible delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange unless it reports earnings by a Dec. 14 deadline. Olympus also is being investigated by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and other authorities, and the officials involved in hiding losses may face criminal charges.

The company is “cooperating fully with investigators,” spokesman Tsuyoshi Kitada said yesterday. He declined to elaborate.

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