Olympus set to mount massive new share issue

OLYMPUS said yesterday it will raise up to ¥118bn (£784m) in a new share issue to expand its medical equipment business and rebuild its financial health, after an accounting scandal plunged the Japanese company into the red.

Shares in the firm will be offered to overseas investors, mainly in the United States and Europe, the world’s biggest endoscope maker said in a statement.

Olympus, which counts Sony as its largest shareholder, is marketing its shares to foreigners as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic stimulus measures boost global appetite for Japanese stock.

The company’s shares lost more than 80 per cent of their value in the months following the revelation of a $1.7bn accounting fraud. They are now about one-quarter above their pre-scandal level, rebounding in line with a Japanese stock market rally.

Olympus became entangled in one of Japan’s biggest accounting scandals in October 2011 as its British chief executive turned whistleblower and revealed details of investment losses the camera and medical equipment company hid for decades.

The latest share offering was announced less than a week after guilty verdicts and suspended sentences for three former executives marked the end of the scandal.

Last year Olympus raised ¥50bn through a third-party allocation of shares to business partner Sony.

Olympus will use the bulk of the funds it is raising to bolster its medical business, including ¥19.7bn to build three medical equipment factories.

Two will be located in Fukushima prefecture, the site of the 2011 nuclear power station disaster.