New Olympus filings reveal a £700m hole

FORMER Olympus chief executive Michael Woodford said he wants to recapitalise the troubled camera and equipment maker within months, after it staved off the immediate threat of being de-listed.

Woodford, who is seeking investor support to be reinstated, said: “You have to look at improving the capital structure of the company. Because of the litigation risk, you couldn’t do that publicly, so you have [as] options a strategic alliance, private equity or a rights issue.”

He added, however, that he would take “no part” in a sale or break-up of the business. He spoke out after Olympus filed five years of restated accounts – just hours before the stock exchange deadline – revealing a £700m dent in its balance sheet.

Hope of a fresh start were dashed, however, when the Tokyo Stock Exchange said it would keep Olympus on the watchlist for possible de-listing. Some of the restated accounts came with qualified opinions from auditors, with KPMG AZSA saying it had been unable to confirm all the money flows involved in fraud.

Olympus’ most recent restatement, for the period to the end of June this year, showed an ¥84bn (£697m) reduction in net assets. Olympus added that as of the end of September, its net assets were just ¥46bn, just a fifth of those stated in March 2007.

It also revealed a net loss of ¥32.33bn for the six months to end-September, fuelling suggestions the firm would need more cash if it is to avoid becoming a takeover target. Its debt is about 14 times its equity.

Fujifilm and Hoya, both endoscope-makers, have long been seen as possible bidders. Last night they could not be reached for comment.