Ex-Olympus boss says board meeting was 'constructive'

Michael Woodford said he was "encouraged" by the meeting

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The ex-boss of scandal-hit Japanese camera-maker Olympus has said that a meeting with the company's board was "constructive and honest".

Michael Woodford, who was sacked in October after he revealed that the firm had hidden losses, said the shared priority was for Olympus to avoid being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The board meeting was held a day after the resignation of three directors.

Olympus will be delisted if it fails to report financial data by 14 December.

However, even if it still meets that target for publishing its latest six-month results, authorities could still remove Olympus from the exchange, depending on the scale of its past misstatements, or if any link is found to Japanese organised crime gangs.

No handshakes

Start Quote

They didn't shake my hand and I didn't offer mine”

End Quote Michael Woodford Former chief executive, Olympus

Former chief executive, Mr Woodford, a British national, was able to attend the board meeting in Tokyo because he remains a director of the firm.

"There is clearly a shared desire that the company's not delisted," he told reporters as he departed.

Mr Woodford added that despite being constructive, the meeting had also been tense.

"There was a tension in the room, but there seemed to be an understanding that it was in no one's interest to raise the temperature," he said.

"They didn't shake my hand and I didn't offer mine."

Initial denial

Mr Woodford was unanimously sacked by the Olympus board after he questioned about $1.3bn (£840m) in advisory fees paid to obscure firms, as well as the money spent on takeovers, which was subsequently largely written off.

Olympus Olympus will have to work hard to repair its damaged reputation

Olympus initially denied wrongdoing, but then admitted it had been covering up huge investment losses dating back decades.

Mr Woodford fled Japan immediately following his sacking, citing concerns for his safety due to the speculation that organised crime groups may be linked to the scandal.

The three directors who stood down on Thursday include Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who resigned as chairman last month, but had remained at Olympus in a non-executive role.

The two other directors were the firm's former vice president and former auditor.

Mr Woodford, who has the backing of several of Olympus' largest shareholders, has said he would be prepared to return to the chief executive position.

However, most analysts say it is unlikely that the Olympus board will reappoint him.

Analyst Martin Schulz, from Tokyo-based Fujitsu Research Institute, told the BBC's Asia Business Report: "It will most likely be someone else who has been following the scandal [that is appointed the new chief executive].

"I would guess it will be someone from within the company, from the successful core of the company, which has a very high interest of getting this company going again."

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