updated 05:30 am EST, Thu December 1, 2011
Ex-CEO Woodford plans Olympus leadership challenge
Ex-CEO of the scandal rocked Olympus, Michael Woodford, has announced that he has quit his position as a board member in order orchestrate a wholesale leadership change. Woodford has told Reuters that he does not want such a move to be aggressive, but driven by the shareholders. To this extent, he has called on the current board to initiate a shareholder meeting by at least February in order to put his plan to a vote.
Although he has admitted to being approached about leading a buyout of the company following revelations of its large scale accounting cover-up, Woodford has said that he does not want to take that approach.
"I'm not trying to get involved to sell Olympus to an American healthcare group or an overseas healthcare group. I don't want to be a part of that," he said when questioned on the matter.
"I wouldn't be part of that. I don't see that being feasible or attractive ... I just want Olympus to have a board which is trusted and respected and get on with running the company. I am quite Japanese in that sense," he said.
"This won't be aggressive or hostile in any way," he added.
Woodford also conceded that he has yet to put together an alternative set of board members for a reconstituted board, but will face stiff opposition from current president Shuichi Takayama, who is determined to fight off any challenge. While Woodford was one of the few non-Japanese CEO's in Japan, Japanese investors may not look too favorably on Woodford in any leadership showdown.
The company recently floated the idea of selling off its consumer camera arm in order to help it recover from as much as $4.9 billion in hidden losses. It currently enjoys a virtual monopoly in the lucrative medical endoscope market with an estimated annual turn-over of $2.6 billion coming from the segment.