Whistleblower to give up Olympus management bid

6th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

Michael Woodford, the whistle-blowing former chief executive of Olympus, said Friday he would abandon his bid to take over the helm of the scandal-hit Japanese precision equipment maker.

Woodford had decided he "will today withdraw from any further action to form an alternative slate of directors," he said in a statement, citing personal issues and the absence of support from Japanese institutional shareholders.

He is to hold a news conference at 0600 GMT.

Shares in Olympus were down 3.68 percent at 993 yen in opening trade.

Woodford, the company's first ever non-Japanese president and chief executive at the 92-year-old company, was stripped of the top posts in October.

He said he was sacked because he alleged overpayments in acquisition deals in recent years and raised doubts over the firm's corporate governance.

Olympus later admitted the deals had been used to cover up huge investment losses dating back to the 1990s and a report from a third-party investigation panel slammed its top management as "rotten".

Woodford had earlier said one effective option for getting a new management team would be a proxy battle at a general shareholders' meeting -- in which like-minded shareholders join forces to remove the board.

But he could not win support from Japanese investors.

"The major reason for the continuing uncertainty is that despite my having done the right thing, none of the major Japanese institutional shareholders have offered one word of support to me and conversely have in effect allowed the tainted and contaminated board to continue in office," he said.

"The fact that such a situation can exist despite the explicit findings of the third-party committee is depressing and totally disorientating to those looking in on Japan from the outside."

Woodford also said his fight made his family suffer.

"It's been a frightening period for my wife, who has suffered a lot and every night still wakes screaming in a trance and it takes several minutes to calm her.

"She finds the uncertainty and hostility of the public fight difficult to cope with and I have therefore decided for her emotional well-being that I cannot put her through any more anguish, and will today withdraw from any further action to form an alternative slate of directors," he said.

© 2012 AFP

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