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ISS Recommends Clients Vote Against Olympus’s Proposed President

ISS Proxy Advisory Services recommended that its clients reject Olympus Corp.’s proposed appointment of Hiroyuki Sasa as president, saying he lacks the right experience to lead the company after a $1.7 billion fraud.

“Sasa’s work experience does not appear appropriate” to head Olympus “at a time when the firm is faced with enormous tasks ranging from restructuring and financial stabilization to restoration of investor trust,” ISS said in a report published April 6.

The recommendation may prompt investors to reject Olympus’s February proposal for an 11-member board to replace President Shuichi Takayama and other directors after the company admitted to a 13-year cover-up of investment losses. Shareholders will vote April 20 on nominees including Sasa, head of marketing at Olympus’s medical systems unit, and Yasuyuki Kimoto, a former executive at main creditor Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. who has been nominated as chairman.

ISS said investors should vote against Kimoto because of concerns that bank interests will be prioritized over shareholder interests.

Southeastern Asset Management Inc., Harris Associates LP and seven other shareholders of Olympus said last month that Olympus’s board nominees may have a conflict of interest because of their ties to creditors.

The proposed board hasn’t laid out its strategic vision, making it hard for shareholders to evaluate Sasa’s leadership, ISS said.

Separately, Japan Proxy Governance Institute said it supported the proposed appointment of Kimoto as chairman and Sasa as president.

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