Investors heap pressure on beleaguered Olympus board

INVESTORS in scandal-hit technology firm Olympus are demanding an emergency meeting after the former chief executive launched a campaign to sack the board.

Southeastern Asset Management, the main foreign shareholder with about five per cent, said Olympus needs a new board with a majority of independent directors.

“The incumbent board must promptly announce an emergency meeting and allow shareholders the opportunity to propose candidates. Only with this new board can the reform process be credible and trusted,” it said.

The call was echoed by the Asian Corporate Governance Association. Jamie Allen, secretary general of the group, whose members include institutional investors managing assets of more than $10 trillion (£7.43 trillion), said it was not healthy for the tension between management and shareholders to continue.

It came as former Olympus chief Michael Woodford resigned his position on the board, which he had retained despite being sacked. He wants a new team of directors installed but denied wanting to lead a buyout of the camera and medical equipment manufacturer, despite approaches from several parties.

“I’m not trying to get involved to sell Olympus to an American healthcare group,” he said.

Woodford was speaking in New York, where this week he met FBI officials probing the scandal. He also said he had met investors and called for a shareholders’ meeting by February.