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Olympus’ Financial Woes Continue


After admitting that the company had used $1.7 billion in payments to cover up losses on investments, Olympus' Japanese stock fell 49 percent in two days in January. This latest drop now brings the company's total stock value loss to 70 percent since October, when Olympus fired its British CEO and president, Michael Woodford.

An outside committee appointed by Olympus released the information about the payouts and also found that these blanketed losses may even date back to the 1990s, including $687 million in fees that Olympus paid to an obscure financial advisor in conjunction with its acquisition of the British medical equipment maker Gyrus in 2008.

Also removed as a part of this scandal were executive vice president Hirashii Mor and corporate auditor Hideo Yamada.

Moving in for a merger, three major electronics giants — Sony, Panasonic and Samsung Electronics — have said they are prepared to inject fresh capital into Olympus in return for a stake in the company and a seat at the table of the global health care industry.

In January, Fujifilm Holdings said it had made an undisclosed offer. Fujifilm executives say that Fujifilm would be the best partner for Olympus right now, as it combines its X-ray and ultrasound technology with Olympus' medical businesses. Fujifilm also bought two units of Merck & Co. about a year ago and has completed 21 acquisitions in the past five years.

In addition to its line of photographic equipment, Olympus leads the market for the gastrointestinal endoscope, which is regarded as a still profitable high-tech niche that potential new investors would find a boon.

Law enforcement agencies in Japan, Britain and the United States are still investigating the scandal.