An angry, tense, and sometimes contentious shareholders' meeting, convened in the common room of a Tokyo hotel Friday (yesterday in Japan), began with Olympus officials and board members bowing deeply to the shareholders in the traditional Japanese gesture of apology.
All 11 current board members resigned, and were replaced with successors they had picked. Hiroyuki Sasa, 56, is the company's new president. Yasuyuki Kimoto, 63, takes over as Chairman. Kimoto is a former executive at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, Olympus's main investor. Another banker became a director. Foreign investors feel this is a conflict of interest, worried that the new management will make decisions advantageous to Japanese creditors at the expense of the recovery and long-term viability of the company. Olympus rejected these criticisms, noting that six of the new directors have no connections to the banks.
Former CEO and whistleblower Michael Woodford, who was in attendance, demanded to know why he had been fired. Officials failed to give a substantive answer. Some shareholders still wanted him to resume leadership of the company, but that effort was rebuffed. It is believed that the priority for most shareholders is to see the share price recover.
Three former Olympus officials have been arrested and charged in connection with the scandal, which alleges massive accounting fraud.
Despite the highly unusual tenor of the meeting, described by one newspaper as "raucous," Olympus shares rose 6.4% in the aftermath.
Disclaimer: Yr. Hmbl. Ed. is a former OM-4T user and has plans to buy an OM-D.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.