updated 11:30 am EST, Mon February 27, 2012
Olympus medical equipment exec will be new CEO
At its meeting on Monday, the entire board of directors at Olympus has resigned. As its last act, the the board named Hiroyuki Sasa, 56, as its next president. Former Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. executive Yasuyuki Kimoto, 63, was also selected to be the new board chairman. The appointments will require shareholder approval at a special meeting scheduled for April 20.
The resignations are the latest in the shakeup of Olympus in the wake of the coverup of $1.7 billion in losses dating back to the 1990s. Former Olympus President Michael Woodford was forced out last October after he brought evidence of the scandal to the board. His replacement, former Olympus chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, as well as the company's former Executive Vice President Hisashi Mori and former Auditor Hideo Yamada were subsequently arrested and charged with violations of Japan's Financial Instruments and Exchange Law. The company is suing them and fifteen other current and former executives for their part in the deception. The scandal threatened to have Olympus de-listed from the Nikkei Stock Exchange.
Kikukawa emerged as the choice of an internal committee after a month-long search. He has previously led both the research and marketing at Olympus Medical Systems, the company's most profitable division. The appointment of Kimoto, the former banking executive, was also expected. Sumitomo Mitsui is one of Olympus' main lenders.
In addition to the accounting scandal, Olympus' performance has been damaged by the catastrophic flooding in Thailand last year. The floods affected most electronics and hard drive manufacturers. The company recently signaled that it will post a higher-than-expected loss of 32 billion yen (about $412 million).
The struggling company has been seeking partners for a cash infusion. Deals with Fujifilm, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony have all been mentioned as possible.
Shares of Olympus stock fell three percent to 1,373 yen on the Tokyo Nikkei Stock Exchange after the resignations were announced. [via New York Times]