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Former CEO Woodford ends Olympus takeover battle

By dpreview staff on Jan 6, 2012 at 01:59 GMT

Former CEO Michael Woodford has issued a statement saying he will no longer seek to regain his position in the company. Woodford was removed by the company when he uncovered a financial cover-up aimed at hiding loses of over $1bn. He has subsequently campaigned to have the company's existing management board removed but has given up on the fight, having failed to win similar levels of support from Japanese shareholders as he received from overseas investors.

Comments

Total comments: 46
Tom Stone
By Tom Stone (Jan 12, 2012)

Unfortunately, this is business as usual for Japan. If it were a Japanese CEO that had blown the whistle, there might have been a change. Since it was an outsider, not a chance. I was amazed that they had placed a foreigner as CEO as it was. That is very out of character for them.

0 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Jan 8, 2012)

The writing is on the wall for the shamed yet shameless Olympus. One way or the other, that company is going DOWN. Way down. Way, way down.

BTW, some Fujifilm camera models carry a huge permanent label these days right on the camera body(!!!) wit these three words:

"MADE IN JAPAN."

Is that such a good thing to advertise these days? I don't rightly know...

0 upvotes
RLPhotoAndImaging
By RLPhotoAndImaging (Jan 6, 2012)

Wow, the fact that the whistle blower is shot down by main Japanese investors clearly shows that these investors also have things to hide.

1 upvote
453C
By 453C (Jan 6, 2012)

Or...

Maybe they just don't like him.

The only thing certain about this mess is that nothing is clear.

0 upvotes
Franka T.L.
By Franka T.L. (Jan 7, 2012)

Not really, the corporate and independent share holder in Japan pretty much are saying they want the mess sort out and then they want someone totally fresh to take the helm instead.

Until the whole matters got all cleared and facts laid out bare, there is no way those conservative Japanese shard holders would ever risk rocking the boat ( which is how they sees the whole affair , right now they just want the business to survive and back to business as usual )

In fact its the Japanese Police and the Tokyo Stock Exchange that seems to be in doubt for how they deal with the whole thing

0 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Jan 8, 2012)

" those conservative Japanese shard holders .... right now they just want the business to survive and back to business as usual."

Nice wishing on their part. But it just ain't going to happen.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Jan 6, 2012)

While I admire Mr. Woodford, I wonder where he will end up. A job with Ralph Nader, perhaps? Or maybe Elizabeth Warren?

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Jan 6, 2012)

You miss the point entirely. Successful whistleblowers are seldom merely idealists or do-gooders. They are "alphas" with skin in the game, and get upset when others' cheating ruins their prospects, but don't strike back unless they have a Plan B to survive.

Woodford could never have dared take on Kirukawa and his stooges, unless he'd already built up some net worth to survive a probable dearth of job offers. Very likely, he'll either retire, launch some niche company in the imaging industry, or buy an iStore franchise and run it as a hobby.

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
goblin
By goblin (Jan 6, 2012)

With the information he had, it's enough for any of his firends to have bet against Oly on the stock exchange the day before he got sacked, to bring a comfortable retirement to the whole neighbourhood :)

0 upvotes
goblin
By goblin (Jan 6, 2012)

This news is the best Christmass gift so far, if a bit late.

0 upvotes
justmeMN
By justmeMN (Jan 6, 2012)

If the demise of Olympus is what you want, it certainly is a gift. As a foreign Olympus investor put it:

WSJ: "Southeastern Friday released a statement saying that Olympus "continues to suffer under shoddy corporate governance and an utterly discredited board. We maintain that the board should be replaced and a new board should oversee the company's revival."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203471004577143563046039548.html

0 upvotes
rrr_hhh
By rrr_hhh (Jan 6, 2012)

Well that quote is extracted from Woodford's press release it isn't what I'd call an objective analysis of the situation.

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Jan 6, 2012)

goblin: are you a relative to a Seuss character named Grinch? Exactly what is your Oly action plan? Have the band play "Old Times"? Bring back Kirukawa? Appoint Corzine as CEO?

Honestly, whoever turns Olympus around will have to be a hard knocks character no one is apt to want to be near. You don't cure fraud and incompetence by pleasantries.

0 upvotes
goblin
By goblin (Jan 6, 2012)

My Oly plan ? Continue to make good products, move their b#tts a bit more in the camera division, and shake off future pathetic beancounters with takeover delusions the same way this one was kicked off.

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Jan 6, 2012)

Goblin: Are you at all aware that Oly has $7b in debt and has not been making money, even aside from the hidden losses? Do you think that Oly will "take off" if run by a Delorian who despises "bean counters" and thinks creditors or investors are mere fools to be ignored?

0 upvotes
goblin
By goblin (Jan 6, 2012)

Whatever Oly does, it will do it better without the white knight who kept his mouth shut till he saw THEY will not give HIM the company just like that.

After which he suddenly opened his mouth and couldn't close it for several months.

In any event - this is good news to me. Bad to you. Too bad.

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
justmeMN
By justmeMN (Jan 6, 2012)

Corrupt Japan Inc has made it clear that they have no interest in reform.

AP: "Despite one of the biggest scandals in history, Japanese institutional investors have not spoken one single word of criticism, in complete and utter contrast to overseas shareholders who are demanding accountability from directors," Woodford told a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/06/michael-woodford-ex-olympus-ceo_n_1189010.html

1 upvote
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Jan 8, 2012)

Shame on them. Besides, Olympus lenses are not all that much, and yet they cost so much. And just where exactly did that $2 billion -- or was it $7 billion -- go? Anyone?

0 upvotes
max metz
By max metz (Jan 6, 2012)

The Brit succeeded, he salvaged his career. The Japanese will likely pay very heavily for institutionally supporting such a long term and heavily contrived debt to equity ratio issue, particularly as open critism of China's economic practices accompany worrying events in the South China Sea - there is now a growing aura of questionable regional stability and accountability.

1 upvote
Ah Pek
By Ah Pek (Jan 6, 2012)

No big deal, Olympus will survive or at least its Pen series would. Its a great system and making lots of money for Olympus. Other makers would gladly buy it over.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Jan 6, 2012)

It's not making lots of money for Olympus. They can make a microscope, sell it without discounts to a well-funded institution and all they have to do to advertise it is print a catalog page.

0 upvotes
453C
By 453C (Jan 6, 2012)

Maybe, maybe not. I doubt anyone outside Olympus will ever know how the real books looked, if there even was such an accurate record kept.

0 upvotes
CarlPH
By CarlPH (Jan 6, 2012)

Quoting from the report

"Local media has reported that Sony, Fujifilm Holdings and Panasonic Corp are among the candidates that may ride to the rescue of Olympus."

Looks like Olympus is here to stay

1 upvote
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Jan 8, 2012)

"Rescue" in business lingo means that the "rescuer" "or "investor angel" buys the remnants of the company -- so it can pillage it, sells its assets, then shut it down cold in short order.

One less competitor to contend with, see?

Comment edited 13 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Jan 6, 2012)

This is a bad predictor of Olympus' future.

1 upvote
sedentary_male
By sedentary_male (Jan 6, 2012)

He was brought in as the fall guy - he fell. Olympus can now move on.

0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Jan 6, 2012)

Do you even know what happened?

1 upvote
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Jan 6, 2012)

Nonsense. Not that you would have any way of knowing.

0 upvotes
ELLIOT P STERN
By ELLIOT P STERN (Jan 6, 2012)

I have strong doubts about any major companies anymore. It does matter if it is Japan or any where else in the world. It is hard to determine which is doing it to you more than the other.
In the case of Olympus I am personally shocked because I have known the company for years and had always considered them at the top of the heap for being highly respectable. I can only hope that the same poor ethics is not passed down to their products.

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Jan 6, 2012)

There need not be any linkage between board-level shenanigans and product integrity. Kodak has always made good products, but has gone down the drain without overt malfeasance. Olympus has had the misfortune to endure executives who concealed a fraud that snowballed over the years and may now wipe it out.

0 upvotes
Potemkin_Photo
By Potemkin_Photo (Jan 6, 2012)

Funny how Japanese shareholders are comfortable with that corrupt board.

4 upvotes
Retro Joe
By Retro Joe (Jan 6, 2012)

If Woodford's failed takeover is related to non-acceptance of so-called whistleblowing what does that say about the ethics of the Japanese? Before I judge, I wonder, what if Woodford wasn't Welch-born and was Japanese? Which is worse? Maybe it's a combination of both. Either way, I hope another camera maker steps in to bolster them financially and wrench control of the books from the crooks still there who were part of the fraud and/or coverup.

3 upvotes
JonathanJK
By JonathanJK (Jan 7, 2012)

Welsh born.

0 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Jan 8, 2012)

"I hope another camera maker steps in to bolster them financially"

I think you are a bit naive, Retro. Why would ANYONE do that to any company?

What will happen instead, much more likely, is that the company will be 'rescued' -- and then chopped-up, sold, merged away, with its products summarily retired. And the take over artists being happy for having eliminated another competitor. Business 401, really.

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Rriley
By Rriley (Jan 6, 2012)

the whole concept of 'whistleblower' is very unpopular in Japan, not only that he was never the right guy for the task of putting Olympus together again. It seems his personal investment to lead Olympus has failed.

That said a question remains about the Olympus management installed, for if they think they can roll along in the same old way, I fear they are much mistaken... At least Woodford would have offered a point of difference and been an advocate for change where change it seems is much needed.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
skytripper
By skytripper (Jan 6, 2012)

The term "whistleblower" has a negative connotation even in the U.S. thanks to countless movies telling us that even thieves have a "code of honor" which forbids them from ratting on their pals. It's ridiculous! I agree with @micahmedia that trying to save your job, having been fired for doing the right thing, is NOT "ego". Or if it is, then we could use a lot more "ego" in this country.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
Potemkin_Photo
By Potemkin_Photo (Jan 6, 2012)

I'm sure that in years to come we will find that companies we were duped into thinking had sterling reputations--honda, toyota, etc--will all be shown to have the same problems.

Japanese, American, Russian, whatever--they're all corrupt. Just a matter of time.

2 upvotes
photocine
By photocine (Jan 6, 2012)

The ego power grab failed?

0 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Jan 6, 2012)

Risking a career you've given a chunk of your life for (he was not new to the company) in the name of doing the right thing ≠ ego

How much longer would this have gone on without his intervention?

Having the chutzpah to speak out against corruption is to be APPLAUDED, not derided.

10 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Jan 6, 2012)

He might get voted the best CEO of 2011 (maybe 2nd to Jobs)

3 upvotes
Kengee
By Kengee (Jan 6, 2012)

Actually, Steve Jobs uses Chinese slave labour and exploits them just as much as the others. The factories that produce Apple products, also have the distinction of having the highest suicide rate amongst the poor exploited workers in China. Fell free to Google Apple workers in China. More people need to find out just how much of a nice guy he wasn't.

0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Jan 6, 2012)

"uses"?

1 upvote
M1963
By M1963 (Jan 6, 2012)

Mssimo, he has. The Independent gave him that accolade (for all that's worth).

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Jan 6, 2012)

It's not true that "everyone does it." Fraud is hard to prosecute, and many instances may go unreported or unpunished, but the >$1 billion Kirukawa fraud ranks high on the roster of reprehensible financial crimes. The irony is that gearheads will remember it as "Woodford's failed power grab," rather than a massive crime perpetrated by an old-school CEO and his collusive board minions.

0 upvotes
JonathanJK
By JonathanJK (Jan 7, 2012)

@Kengee

Actually, first you should google it when making your point when presenting your argument to us.

Second, Jobs use to build Macs and Next computers in the US. Guess what? Everybody complained about the price.

Third, the suicide rate is lower at Foxcon per head then in the US. The suicides were blown out of proportion for what they are.

Fourth, It isn't just Apple who use Foxcon, all computer makers are.

Fifth, why is Apple being demonised when they are Foxcon workers in Foxcon factories? Ah yes the media made the link, after all it isn't newsworthy if the blame lay solely on Foxcon.

Sixth, these are not sweatshops, these factories are the size of cities that have their own shops and cinemas. Apple can't be blamed for the lack of better jobs in China.

Seventh, the huge payouts for suicides by Foxcon for relatives were an incentive for some to commit suicide. One reason why Foxcon lowered the amount they payout.

0 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Jan 8, 2012)

One way or the other, and sooner rather than later, Olympus is/will be D-E-A-D. Anything else would be a travesty of justice.

So is Steve Jobs already. No, he was never a "nice guy." Even in death, he and his family are trying to cheat the government out of estate and inheritance taxes. And he was one of the stingiest "billionaires" when it came to charities. And so is Apple, the company.

Personally, I would not use any Apple product if they gave it away with a free cup of coffee and complimentary roll of toilet paper. Let alone buy something from them.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 46