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Woodford ramps up campaign to oust Olympus board

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Hostile takeover. By an ousted foreigner. Awesome.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

the plot thickens!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

damn! Getting BETTER than a Grisham book!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I like this guy. A proxy battle. Hmmm. I hope enough shares are owned by non-Japanese.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Getting BETTER than a Grisham book!

The Olympus Proxy, now in hardcover. Profits to go to charity, minus a modest 35% commission to an anonymous account in the Caymans.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

He said he had been ousted because he had voiced concerns over high-priced acquisition deals in recent years and alleged serious flaws in corporate governance.

Wonder if he has ammo for a libel suit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the plot is unfolding exactly as he had planned, and making a name for himself

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I am pretty sure it was olympus that made his name not the other way round

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I bet the old stubborn and corrupt board members are hating this :) Their over-privileged and corrupt ways have been challenged for once. Which is excellent news.

Yokatta ne!

I just wish Woodford could do the same and exposure all of the useless old corrupt members of the Japanese political parties.

People like Woodford is exactly what Japan needs. Ruffle a few feathers and hopefully change (for the better) just might a have a fighting chance.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

i hope he is successful

3 ( +5 / -2 )

i would rather say, in order to save Japanese Business Culture "Olympus fires British CEO Woodford."

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

i can't judge anything going on here, i have no idea to what extent the company is involved in criminal activities, nor to what extent is woodford a holy saint. i would like transparency on all sides. police is going to expose (if they are not tied to organized crime also) all the dirty stuff done by the company. but i'd like to also know about the personal finances of woodford: what was his salary as boss, and what is his salary now. when so much money and big money makers are involved, it would be fair to expose all info, don't you agree?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hostile takeover, he needs to quit in order to do it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stick it to 'em, Woodword! Looks like he might have more of an uphill battle with the Japanese investors than he thinks he will, though.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

He is a good guy but I question whether he is a CEO material or not. To be honest I think he will personalize the company to his liking and ruin it in the long run.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Oh, Mr. Woodford. Seems like you want to walk the tightrope.

I'm still with Mr. Woodford in his endeavor to liberate Olympus.

However, a word of caution. The people are fickle. One minute you're the hero, the next they'll try to cast you out. He has played his hand very well so far. He knows he was right. I just think he needs really consider what he's up against.

Japanese play a very good song and dance. The shareholders are angry at those guys who lied to them. HOWEVER, they are Japanese, they look Japanese, they got rich with these guys even if they lied to them. Most of them probably didn't want to know the truth so long as the bank transfers kept coming on time.

Does anybody else see where I'm going with this? The resignations were there to sate the lust for someone's head. Olympus in an effort to appease the bloodlust tossed them a couple of old fogeys that will get off scott-free anyway.

Mr. Woodford wanted the whole board out. Even though he's correct, Japanese aren't going to give him that. You see it's all a big show, a play sort of. Olympus is just going through the motions. It is done to make it appear to the foreigners that Japanese police their own quite strictly when in fact it's only a small battle. They'll never agree to surrender the war.

I know what I'm saying may seem complicated but these Corporate guys have seen worse. They know the public is forgetful and given enough time, they will be distracted or it will simply die down as people go on about their lives.

Mr. Woodford will be hard pressed to pull off a hostile takeover without the support of rival companies. Plus he let the cat out of the bag so they'll brace for impact.

It may be a corrupt Japanese company but it's a Japanese company none the less and even at it's lowest point they won't hand that company over easily.

It's okay if you disagree with me but I walk on the planet cause of gravity. There are at least a hundred things I can't do unless I have a Japanese person standing behind me. They will NEVER allow foreigners to own and operate a company here in Japan, especially one created by Japanese.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Agreed with "TakahiroDomingo" actually yea it is true who know in what extent is woodford a holy saint... when everybody start wearing a black goggles then entire world seems to be dark ......i agree with TakahiroDomingo

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Good show, Mr. Woodford. But I've got a feeling deep in my gut that says you're going to run into a brick wall somewhere along the corridors of Olympus. What your hoping to do is far from being all that easy ...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Woodford said he was resigning because the current board was not fit to carry out its promises of cleaning up Olympus after expensive acquisition deals were used to mask investment losses dating back over two decades. Maybe he could see that this is not worth it, that Olympus just may be way too corrupt to try and save, from itself and from the yakuza. Otsukaresama deshita!****

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am amused at all of the Woodford cheerleaders here...

It would seem that few of you have a realistic understanding of the way things work here or fail to see the trouble that all of this is going to cause for DECADES to come in the Japanese business community and how they act / react to foreign involvement or management styles...

You can forget about ANY major Japanese corporation appointing a foreigner to their board - let alone an executive position - for years and years to come because Woodford will go down as "representative" of the kind of trust one can have for such people...

Insubordination - inappropriate demands - disregard & disrespect for rank - threats in the media - whistle blowing - hostile take-overs., are all the western business character traits that are going to be associated with this guy and anyone to come after him for a long time...

This sort of thing plays right into the hands of the right-wing business leaders and the corporations / boards that those people control... "We simply can't trust them - remember what Woodford did ?"

Woodford "may" well be absolutely correct in his conclusions about who did what, why, when and where BUT shareholders will not be so easy to forget that - even with 20 years of debt cover-ups - their shares and investments in Olympus were doing just fine until he decided to blow the whole thing wide apart - - perhaps one day we will hear the REAL story behind his motivation but for now the "I wanted to protect the shareholder's interests" ( his primary duty as CEO btw ) just doesn't wash with me = It all seems just so self-serving IMO...

Me thinks I can still hear the reverberations of a very large door being slammed shut to anyone non-japanese who had any ambitions of corporate career success in Japan...

Time will tell.......

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

If Woodford things that someone is going to put a hostile bid in, does this mean that the shares are going to be going up?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Me thinks I can still hear the reverberations of a very large door being slammed shut to anyone non-japanese who had any ambitions of corporate career success in Japan...

Aside from a few token faces that door was never open in the first place.

Look, I know that what Woodford did may not paint foreigners in a good light in the eyes of the Japanese, but he did what was right. Do you think if corporate greed and corruption had been allowed to continue the way it has for so long that that would have been a good thing? Maybe, just maybe, as a result of all of this, senior execs, Japanese or otherwise, may be held more accountable for their actions. And that can only be a good thing for the vast vast majority.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Aside from a few token faces that door was never open in the first place.

You are correct in that the door has not been WIDE open by any means - BUT it was open if only just an inch or two - - Woodford himself was evidence of that...

but he did what was right...

Semantics... 20 years from now we can look back at this and decide / debate the balance of cause and effect - but for now there is no way to tell...

FWIW - I believe that HE felt what he did was right - but I am not yet convinced that there may have been better ways for him to have gone about it...

History is full of decisions made in the heat / haste of battle that - at the time - were felt to have been in the best interest or common good that turned out to have horrific consequences for many - - in this case the vulnerable would appear to still be shareholders, banks / creditors, employees and perhaps a foreign led work force that Japan needs so badly with it's aging baby-boomer population...

History is written by the Victors - so I guess this will all come down to who comes out on top.....

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I don't know, with the way the Japanese economy is, the egg of Olympus' face, the number of foreigner investors... I think many of those Japanese investors will back him. The "younger" Japanese (30-45) are also sick and tired of these ossans running the country and bullying people. This could be the beginning of a giant revolt for the younger generation involved in such companies.

Horiemon got the slap down but that was HIS company and he was obviously sketchy and the old guys didn't like it. Very few foreign investors, a short shelf life. In this case, plenty of foreign investors, a long history and good quality. I think this guy has a chance of taking the big guys down. I hope he does. The sempai "I'll do whatever I damn will like" system in running Japan and their economy. The younger guys and investors know this - and probably want them out just as badly. Time for some new blood.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Fredster:

I do understand what you are saying and I think you make some interesting points, I almost dont want to disagree with you!

But it is not just Woodford himself that thinks he did the right thing - the FBI, FSA and Japanese financial services agencies (sorry I forget the exact name) also think something was amiss here. I cant honestly see a better way he could have gone about it. As we all know well from our years in Japan nothing ever changes behind closed doors, or does very very slowly and only then to the benefit of the ojiisans running the country. Expose them all though and, well, thats a different matter.

I agree with tmarie - the general consensus I get from Japanese 30-40 somethings I speak to about it is that this is viewed as a good thing by many and an opportunity. After all lets face it, the "old ways" havent done so well for Japan in recent years. A few have even said to me they view Mr Woodford as someone not hampered by the Japanese traditions of respect for elders/seniors, nail that sticks up blah blah blah. They almost see him as a champion for change and someone who is willing to stick their neck up above the parapet. Seems to me there a lot willing to follow him into battle if needs be.

Hope so - I think this is exaxctly what Japan needs if it is to have ANY kind of future.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sorry - just have to add - millions of dollars lost and hidden among dodgy deals is NOT semantics! In anyones book it is wrong - pure and simple! Ask any Olympus shareholder who invested their cash on the basis of what has turned out to be false accounting.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Well, again a weird superhero. Before becoming Batman, this Mr Woodford made a long career in that company and the bad smell didn't disturb him during years. As long as he could benefit that was perfect, then when his career was facing a wall, he can quit and burn the boat. He can shake hands with the Tepco guys.

he did what was right.

Would have been right to prevent the scam years ago... now he does what it takes to save his own skin.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

The Briton was dumped on Oct 14 as the first ever non-Japanese president and chief executive in the firm’s nine-decade history, but retained his seat on the board.

First the media used the word ousted, then dumped....seems Mr Woodford is not much welcome as a gaijin hero.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

dear mr. woodford,

if this were a british company, then you should go full bore ahead, but this is a japanese company. change is incremental in japan, but what you are trying to do is create a tidal wave. don't you realize that very few japanese people are fully behind your current plans. the key word here is fully. i'm sure some might appreciate your efforts but you're going a bit overboard now. you are doing more harm now then good to olympus now. thank you for your efforts but door is that way.

sincerely, employees of olympus

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

If Woodford things that someone is going to put a hostile bid in, does this mean that the shares are going to be going up?

timtak -- huh? This has nothing to do with a hostile takeover. This is about getting the current shareholders voting out the current board of directors. Ownership does not change.

"Proxy battles—in which like-minded shareholders join forces to remove the board—are rare in Japan, where big institutional investors typically have cosy relations with management."

And "cosy" is an understatement and is why this situation went on for over two decades. The Japan Inc. model is fatally flawed, and Woodford is making sure the whole world knows it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

i seriously doubt the japanese would ever boot out one of their own & replace them with a gaijin. no matter how bad the japanese person was, he's still better than a "gaijin" in their eyes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

i'm sure some might appreciate your efforts but you're going a bit overboard now. you are doing more harm now then good to olympus now. thank you for your efforts but door is that way.

sincerely, employees of olympus

LOL.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Before becoming Batman, this Mr Woodford made a long career in that company and the bad smell didn't disturb him during years. As long as he could benefit that was perfect, then when his career was facing a wall, he can quit and burn the boat. He can shake hands with the Tepco guys. I don't think he had a clue until he came here as to what was going on.

As for "Japanese before foreigner"... if this company wants to save itself it is going to have to learn to play by international rules and that basically means nationality and "saving your own" goes out the window. Will they be smart enough to get that? They might not have a choice if the investors force it on them. The business world is watching and this will determine the future of investing in Japan I think. Hopefully they don't screw it up.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

more press interviews? what a surprise mr woodfood.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"you are doing more harm now then good to olympus now. thank you for your efforts but door is that way.

sincerely, employees of olympus"

that because this is about his selfish self and NOT about helping olympus. he already has enough workers at olympus that don't like him for his work up until this latest episode.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

of course he did the right thing.

any bunch of spineless cretins who allow themselves to get blackmailed by perhaps the world's largest groups of sociopaths, the yakuza, to the tune of more than a billion dollars should be treated as enemies of the state, not just fraudsters.

corporations collaborating with organized crime are organized crime.

therefore, woodford did the only thing a person with a modicum of self-respect could do and exposed the sociopaths on the board of directors who made it to the top just to try and game the system.

in fact, woodford is one of few ceo's to have actually accomplished something of merit to justify the exhorbitant pay ceo's of companies in the red get, even though his tenure was probably the shortest on record.

the corporate world is diseased.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I hate to say "I told you so..." I've been saying all along - don't discount the possibility that this has all been a power play on Mr. Woodford's part. What does it look like now?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

As I sad before, I am going to support Mr. Woodford all the way.

Japan needs someone like him to improve corporate transparency and credibility for going forward.

If you are willing to support him, please buy shares of Olympus and get on proxy, I WILL.

Many blessings to Mr. Woodford, he needs it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

it seems that the uk (where saint woodward comes from) is slightly more corrupt as a country than japan. check it out for yourselves, especially those that are non-stop bashing japanese business culture:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index

http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Would have been right to prevent the scam years ago... now he does what it takes to save his own skin.

And how exactly was he supposed to do that? He has only had access to the data needed to expose the scam in the last 6 months.

@JohnBecker - why in the world would Woodford have needed to make a powerplay in the first place? He was already CEO and President. He could have sat quietly, enjoyed all the trappings that came with the position, and kept his mouth shut. Instead, he risked his job, reputation and entire career to expose this corruption. If anything, the opposite of a powerplay. He could have lost everything. He has been at Olympus for over 20 years. He knows how J companies work, and he knew the risk he was taking. He did it anyway because he knew this kind of behaviour made the company rotten to the core. Cut out the rot, and the tree has a chance once more to flourish.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

To all the people that think Woodford did wrong because he was selfish and trying to get more for himself, (pause) uhm, yeah. He already was Prez and CEO. What more could he become? Emperor? He didn't have to stir the pot. He was still relatively young and possibly could have had a long future at the top of that company. He could have used his influence to replace old retiring guys over time with better candidates. He doesn't necessarily gain from this. He might not succeed in the shareholder vote. I suspect he is a totally straight, otaku/account-type, and that's why he was trusted to the top responsible position. Perhaps the board couldn't see that that might back-fire due to the dirty laundry he would be privy to in that position.

But let's put the guesses at motives aside and look at the facts:

Sure, the shareholders made some money in the past. They could have made more had money not been squanders as it was.

Criminal is criminal - even if you only deal with them - as mentioned earlier. I can confirm this because I have to take training at my company against dealing with "Anti Social Forces". I have seen a company get shut down in Japan due to dealings with organized crime.

The clean-up isn't easy, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. And it won't get done by the people who made the mess either, so someone else has to step in. The eggs are breaking - now is the time to make a better omelet.

And besides, this will go to a vote with the shareholders. How can it be any more democratic than that?

Sorry if I have missed something totally logical or factual here.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And how exactly was he supposed to do that? He has only had access to the data needed to expose the scam in the last 6 months.

An assumption from readers on that board. He was not CEO. but he has been a top director of the group for 20 years (an exec for 30 years). In 2007~2008, he was director of Olympus UK and :

the $2 billion purchase of British medical-instruments company Gyrus in 2008, in which Olympus has admitted paying $687 million to a little-known financial adviser based in the Cayman Islands.

So, he was there for that sale, and he was even the guy in the highest position and the one that knew the most about both parties Olympus and the British seller, and the under-tables. Totally not plausible he was unaware that some world record commission had been paid in 2008, illegally. Back then, he did not picked up his phone to tell to British trade authorities. Note that he just an average European manager, and there are dozens of big companies in UK and Europe involved in all kinds of under-table commission scandals.

He already was Prez and CEO. What more could he become?

Ex-CEO, jail inmate like Loïk Le Floch-Prigent of ELF who was one of the biggest industrial CEOs in Europe or Kim Woo-Choong who was the one of Daewoo that was the biggest in South-Korea. What he does now looks like a plea bargain to avoid bearing the responsibility of 30 yrs of bribing and book cooking.

he was trusted to the top responsible position.

Trusted... well nominated. Maybe to become a fuse. In case of investigation, some European authorities could prosecute the board of Olympus for illegal commissions, false accounting reports the books, breaking the rules of stock-echange market. Japanese board members would never be extraditated, but a European CEO, yes. Later for the image, Olympus could say : "He was the only criminal in our group, not even a Japanese, he's no longer here, we're clean again".

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Cos

I find it hard to fathom why he would have exposed this scam if he were to be implicated in past wrongdoings.

Imagine the headlines:

"Woodford Exposes Himself,

brings down Olympus".

What a blow to Greek mythology that would be.

The plea bargain logic seems rather flawed, as it assumes that he was, what, afraid that someone else was going to expose it?

I don't think that many people were in the loop on the real purpose of these transactions, and one can only assume that the Gyrus transaction is also one that he was not fully apprised of the financial aspects. In fact, wasn't this brought to light by the fact that he was being requested to sign some documents in his new capacity as CEO that were related to the commission in question.

One could easily reverse your logic and assert that perhaps he was being set him up as the fall guy.

If there were a paper trail linking him to any illicit transaction, the FBI and the Japanese authorities would have already been on it, and it would be in the press.

I'm no expert on corporate labyrinths, but the man does not seem to be the scammer you are trying to make him out as, and I would imagine that there will be people prosecuted for accounting crimes and the like, possible on all three of Japan, the USA and Europe.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The plea bargain logic seems rather flawed, as it assumes that he was, what, afraid that someone else was going to expose it?

Japanese media "FACTA" did report it first hand based on insider information not of Woodford. So yeah. "Immunity" angle is not that far fetched.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Immunity" angle is not that far fetched.

from a legal point of view, i don't think that exposing your own acts of malfeasance in an effort to pass the blame onto some other culpable cretin would insulate you (i.e., provide immunity) from prosecution.

that would seem to render this line of argument moot.

and again, it may very well be that the savvy directors of this ill-fated enterprise were trying to foist onto the unsuspecting corporate geek englishman (beggin' yer pardon mr. woodford) the burden of their past misdeeds....

passing the puk along to some they could pas the buck along too... for all of you hockey aficionados

if he would have signed the documents they were trying to get him to sign, he would have become a defacto co-conspirator.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The best foreign CEO for a Japanese company would have to be Carlos Ghosn, who practically revamped Nissan from a company on the brink of bankruptcy to a powerful company

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Again I must say I am British, we have a fantastic way in our country if something is wrong or corrupt we actually publicly destroy our selves publicly. Our parliament brought itself down because of the MP's expenses scandal, some event went to prison including Lords ! We are not afraid to expose corruption we have recently done it with FIFA and cricket. Mr Woodford is right and whatever has gone on with Olympus needs to be open to the public and the share holders to decide and the courts if necessary.

AND WHOEVER IS AT FAULT NEEDS TO FACE THE PUBLIC.

Japan is considered in England as an honorable country: LIVE UP TO YOUR HONOUR !l

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Woodford is dreaming. A significant amount of Olympus business is generated through the complicated kairetsu relationships of it's board and senior executives. Woodfords idea to "clean up the board" comes with a serious if not suicidally catastrophic drop in revenues - he'll come out of this looking rather ugly if he actually manages to succeed. The board, meanwhile, can afford to outlast this foreigner - working behind his back to destroy his credibility, collapse the company's revenues, and generally be a major pain - while being verbose critics of every move he tries to make.

Should be amusing to watch...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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