Olympus dives after firing boss

Steve Dinneen
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SHARES in Japanese camera-maker Olympus plunged by a quarter yesterday as the fallout from the ousting of its chief executive sent investors running for cover, and threatened to escalate into a legal battle.

Michael Woodford was sacked just two weeks after the company promoted the Briton from his role as president with glowing reports on his performance.

Hisashi Mori, executive vice president at Olympus, told investors Olympus may take legal action against Woodford after accusing him of disclosing confidential information.

There were also reports Woodford could take his case to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, after claimed he had asked chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa to resign over payments made to advisors during a $2bn acquisition in 2008. He says he sent a number of explosive letters demanding action after an independent report was drafted by PwC.

The company claims the axe fell after Woodford refused to accept the Japanese corporate structure, insisting on acting autonomously.

His unceremonious exit marks the end of a 30-year career with the company. Kikukawa will take over as president and chief executive, roles he had stepped away from to allow Woodford’s appointments.