Proxy fight must be avoided: Olympus whistleblower

14th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Michael Woodford, the whistle-blowing former chief executive of Olympus, said Wednesday a proxy fight for boardroom control would break up the embattled firm and should be avoided.

Earlier this month Woodford said one effective option for getting a new management team would be a proxy battle -- in which like-minded shareholders join forces to remove the board.

But in a shift from his earlier position, he said he would pursue "a cooperative dialogue" with Olympus President Shuichi Takayama and shareholders to keep the camera and medical equipment maker as a listed Japanese company.

"I would have no part, no part in either selling Olympus or breaking up Olympus," he said at a hearing with lawmakers in Tokyo. "It has to stay a Japanese company on the (Tokyo Stock Exchange)."

His comments come on the day Olympus is expected to announce it long-delayed earnings figures after revelations it had covered up huge losses in the 1990s. If it fails it will be struck off the index.

"I want to try to avoid a proxy fight. That would be destructive, that would be unhelpful," he said.

"I've reached out to Takayama... to have a cooperative dialogue, to work... the next six to eight weeks to form a new board, and at which point he and the remaining directors step down.

"That would be the constructive way to move forward, that'd be a very Japanese way of moving forward," he said.

Woodford, the company's first ever non-Japanese president and chief executive, was sacked on October 14 after making public allegations about the covering up of huge losses at the 92-year-old company, including outsized payments to advisers.

© 2011 AFP

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