Saturday, December 10, 2011

Olympus ousted CEO to visit Japan, seeks new board

TOKYO, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Olympus Corp's ousted CEO, Michael Woodford, will travel to Japan on Tuesday seeking support from shareholders and investors for a new management to lead the firm after a $1.7 billion accounting fraud.

Woodford will arrive in Japan on Tuesday evening and leave on Friday morning, an assistant in Tokyo said in an e-mail.

His visit comes as Olympus prepares to issue its earnings before a deadline Wednesday in order to avoid being delisted by the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Even if it met the deadline, the 92-year-old maker of endoscopes and cameras could still be dumped from the exchange if its accounting misstatements were large enough.

The board, slammed in an independent report on the accounting scandal roiling the company, has said it plans to stay in place for the time being.

Woodford will also meet candidates for any new board, the Yomiuri reported earlier. Nearly all the current directors served during Olympus's 13-year cover-up of investment losses.

Japanese prosectors, jointly with police and securities watchdog, have decided to raid homes of potential suspects and offices linked to the Olympus accounting scandal next week, media reported on Saturday.

Prosecutors' investigation is expected to cover a total of more than 10 locations, including the main office of the camera maker, Jiji news agency said.

Prosecutors are also planning to conduct hearing of former president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who told the independent investment panel set up by Olympus last month that he has only learned about the scandal recently, Jiji said.

Olympus has seen its existence threatened by the scandal, in which senior executives cooked the books in a $1.7 billion scheme to hide investment losses. Olympus shares have lost about half their value since Woodford blew the whistle on the accounting problems.

The independent panel made up of six legal and accounting experts, described the management as rotten to the core.

In order to remove them, Woodford will need the support of most shareholders, including Japanese stock holders, who have yet to voice support for the former president.

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