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Olympus admits using acquisition to hide losses

Olympus admits using acquisition to hide losses

Write: Vivian [2011-11-10]

Olympus admits using acquisition to hide losses

Olympus president Shuichi Takayama apologizes at a news conference November 8.

Olympus Corp. on Tuesday for the first time admitted that some of its executives deliberately concealed decades of losses by paying advisors exorbitant fees.

President Shuichi Takayama said that among three senior Olympus executives involved in concealing the firm's losses, former Olympus Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa was culpable, as was Executive Vice President Hisashi Mori, who was dismissed on Tuesday.

The firm's auditor Hideo Yamada was also involved, Takayama said, adding that legal action may well be taken against all three individuals. Yamada has since offered to step down to take responsibility for his involvement.

"I deeply apologize for shareholders, investors, business partners, customers and those concerned for causing troubles," Takayama said at a news conference in Tokyo.

"I will consider filing criminal complaints if necessary,'' Takayama added.

In a statement released earlier Tuesday, the imaging and life science company said that an independent investigative panel had uncovered four acquisitions, including the 210 billion yen (2.7 billion U.S. dollar) buyout of Gyrus in 2008 and three Japanese companies with all costs incurred totaling some 73.4 billion yen in total, with payments to advisors and writedowns being used to conceal massive losses from the 1990s.

The investigative panel revealed that Olympus had paid an extraordinary 687 million U.S. dollars in advisory fees in the Gyrus acquisition, with this amount being more than 30 percent of the entire takeover deal. Typically financial advisory firms will charge between 1 and 5 percent of the total deal price.

Olympus had previously said that the acquisitions of the three Japanese firms, which were unrelated to the firm's core businesses, were an attempt for the Olympus to "diversify its earnings." Up until Tuesday, Olympus had vehemently denied any wrongdoing and stood by its decision to oust former CEO Michael C. Woodford.

Takayama said that at the moment the firm had no plans to rescind Woodford's dismissal. After he was removed from his post Woodfood went public about his concerns over executives involvement in improper payments to advisors.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange, following Olympus finally owning up to its money scandal, is once again considering placing the firm's stock on a watchlist ahead of a possible delisting from the bourse.

Olympus plunged 29 percent in early Tokyo trading on Tuesday and the stock has lost nearly 70 percent of its value since the scandal came to light on Oct. 14.

Due to the ongoing investigation, Olympus has opted to hold-out on posting its fiscal first half earnings, saying it will release them by mid-November.