Olympus hits out at ousted ex-chief exec

David Hellier
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OLYMPUS, the Japanese camera maker, yesterday threatened to sue its former chief executive yesterday, accusing him of causing disruption to the business and creating a loss of “corporate value”.

The camera group fired Michael Woodford on Friday over what it claimed were differences in management direction and methods. Since then he has made a number of allegations about what he deems to have been a misuse of shareholders’ money, in particular querying the payment of $687m (£416m) to a financial adviser in a 2008 deal to buy the UK-based Gyrus Group.

Olympus yesterday acknowledged it had paid the fee, which represented more than one-third of the acquisition price, but defended it, saying the acquisition amount was a reasonable one.

Olympus shares have fallen by 44 per cent since Woodford began speaking about the circumstances behind his firing last week. He has also called on the entire board to go, warning of an “existential” threat to the future of the 92 year-old business.

Olympus acknowledged another of Mr Woodford’s claims – that it had spent Y73.4bn between 2006 and 2008 to buy three little-known companies in fields far from its core business.