In an effort to stanch what the New York Times calls a "widening scandal," Olympus capo Tsuyoshi Kikukawa has resigned as chairman and president of Olympus Corporation. He will retain a non-representative position on the Board, where the extent of his future influence and control is unknown. (Ousted president Michael Woodford, who apparently remains in London, also retains a seat on the Board.)
A few other developments in the case:
• Olympus stock continues to plummet, having lost approximately 56% of its pre-scandal value as of Wednesday. (Kikukawa's departure was accompanied by "the customary deep bow reserved for public apologies over grave missteps"—addressed to shareholders.) Electronista discusses Kikukawa's efforts at reprisal against Woodford.
• Dealbook reports on two Japanese bankers it says are "at the heart" of the shady payments.
• Further improprieties by Olympus management have been uncovered.
• The FBI has launched an investigation into the Gyrus deal in the U.S.
• Olympus has promised to conduct its own investigation into the allegations. (In unrelated news, fox pack leadership has announced it will investigate that fat fox accused of being the cause of certain missing chickens after an alleged nocturnal visit to the henhouse.)
On his departure, Kikukawa stated "There is no corruption" in past acquisitions.
(The aforementioned fat fox says no chickens got et and that he has no idea where all them feathers came from.)
• Jake Adelstein at the Japanese Subculture Research Center has posted an interesting article bearing on the rumors that organized crime might be involved. Among his observations: "In year 2008, something happened at Olympus that turned the company from an entity focussed on seven major business areas, into a company completely out of focus, blurred by a total of seventeen business areas, to include real estate, investments, consulting, waste disposal, labor dispatch, and running travel agencies. Igari Toshiro, former prosecutor turned anti-yakuza crusader, who was Japan’s greatest expert on white-collar organized crime aka the keizai yakuza (経済ヤクザ）and many veteran organized crime detectives have stated that one of the first signs that a company has been infiltrated by anti-social forces is a sudden and totally new change in company direction—especially into areas like waste disposal, labor dispatch (temporary staffing), and real estate—all areas where anti-social forces have carved out a large niche for themselves." (My apololgies—I can no longer find the identity of the person who tipped me to this article, so I can't acknowledge them as I normally do. —Ed.)
In the Silver Lining Department, the new President of Olympus is Shuichi Takayama, who used to run the Imaging Division—the bit that makes the cameras and lenses, which of course is what most of us care most about.
And in loosely related news, rumor has it that the announcement of Panasonic's "GFPro"—a flagship, top-level Micro 4/3 camera—is imminent. Although we don't yet know the official name (possibly "GX1") or have a picture, some of the specs seem to be pretty well leaked. The backstory: Panasonic evolved the original GF1 in a more consumer-oriented direction with updates of that camera, causing grumbling among aficionados, and the new camera will create a new tier above the GF1 level to satisfy more dedicated and advanced users. I'll leave you to your own devices in sleuthing out the rumors, if you're the impatient type. The date of the announcement is variously predicted to be October 28th or November 8th, and might of course turn out to be some other date.
(Thanks to Jeff, Vlatko, Dennis Allshouse, and others)
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.