Olympus break-up looms

PRIVATE equity funds or trade buyers are likely to snap up the medical arm of scandal-hit Olympus, investors and customers said yesterday.

Fund managers said the importance to hospitals of the lucrative endoscope arm means it is the equivalent of a bank which is “too big to fail” and would be bought if it becomes clear Olympus can no longer run it.

“There are many people who want to buy its business,” said a fund manager at a firm whose clients have stakes in Olympus, while a source at an Asian hospital chain said the group’s “good parts” will be bought by staff or a trade buyer.

Bidders are likely to emerge slowly, however, because of several probes that have further to run. Likely bidders would include rivals Fujifilm and Hoya, if they can overcome competition hurdles, while cash-rich camera-maker Canon could cherry pick certain assets at a later stage.

The group’s bankers, which include Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho, are due to meet Olympus executives tomorrow.