Woodford seeks for shareholder backup


Now here we are with our next (almost) daily Olympus crisis news roundup:

The big news is that Woodford quits form the Olympus board and is seeking for Olympus Shareholder Backing (Bloomberg). If he will archive the gold than he could soon come back as new Olympus CEO. We will know within the next few weeks for sure! Meanwhile more weird stories are coming out. A Key figure in Olympus scandal has been found in Hong Kong (Reuters).

But I will stop here, I wish all that mess will be over soon. It’s time to talk about the future 12-60mm Olympus lens announcement!


  • Fraenzken

    When do you talk about the lens announcement?

    • yea, lets talk about that admin :)

  • he is the wrong person for the job.

    • DonTom


  • fedeskier

    when is olympus going to launch new things for the E-system??

    • Narretz


    • zune


  • Vivek

    The LSE (London School of Economics) might benefit immensely if they hire Woodford to cleanse themselves.

  • DonTom

    Strange move by Woodford. I guess he feels the only valid way of being selected as CEO is by an extraordinary AGM of shareholders, because the remaining directors sure won’t choose him!
    Either that or it will free him up to take over for a buyer: avoiding conflict of interest.

    • rrr_hhh

      I think that Woodford is a shark ! He played the whistleblower part only in order to get the top position and at he rsk of downing the Olympus corporation. Since the beginning, he has been hinting that he would agree to come back to clean the ground. He has formed a group of corporate employees to side with him and now he is calling more overtly than ever (becase it isn’t the first time) in what seems to be a lost cause. The name of the same Southwestern assets management is apparently siding with him since the beginnings, but they have only about 7% of the shares, not enough for a take over.. Unless someone is silently slowly buing Olympus shares in the background.

      I’m curious to know the issue of all this.

      • Jim

        Its hardly Woodfords fault… not him who embezlesd hundres of millions of $$$….

        There was no whistle for him to blow – it was just the sound of steam splitting its way out the boiler!

        • @rrr_hhh I agree with Jim here. Remember, he already had the top job, but lost it because he tried to get the crooks out.
          Of course you would want to go back and clean up a company, if you had risen to the top after 30 years and then been unfairly sacked!

          • Mr. Reeee

            I think they gave him the top job so he’d be grateful, keep his mouth shut and not cause trouble for the daimyo, like a loyal samurai. I guess they miscalculated. Seppuku was never an option for Woodford. He is a Brit after all!

            • DonTom

              I’m sure you’re right. Perhaps they felt he’d been in a Japanese company long enough to be compliant with criminal behaviour! Anyway, it backfired on them bigtime. This will become one of the main case studies in Corporate Ethics courses everywhere, to the longterm embarrassment of Japan.

            • No, they gave him the top job because they expected him to cut costs and probably jettison all the stupid acquisitions they made in covering up their losses. They thought that they could just stonewall the “why” and get him to do the “what.” I’d have to give him full marks for actually thinking about fiduciary interest and try to figure out what was really going on before doing it.

              @rrr-hhh: some of your “facts” are incorrect. He already had the top position in the company. He could have just stayed silent and kept it. He did not form the group of corporate employees trying to save Olympus, they formed of themselves. To date, there has been no takeover attempt. What shareholdes want, including the institutional ones that hold major positions, is to have all the chaff at Olympus removed so that it would be the profitable company it should be. There share values would go up. Way up.

              As for silently buying shares in the background: it’s pretty clear that there have been very major position changes by large holders in recent weeks. I’m not sure that we have a clear view of who owns what at the moment. First, we had more sellers than buyers. Now we have some clear buyers again (which is why the shares have gone back up, though still considerably down from their initial value). That Goldman suddenly owns a substantial hunk indicates that people are placing bets on what happens next.

              • tester13

                Thom, how about stopping bashing Olympus here?
                And telling how good this motherfucker is.
                I’ll be really grateful, at it makes you look bad.

                • You know, you reveal a lot by your lack of logic. Why would you be grateful that I don’t look bad? ;~) For that matter, I’m not exactly bashing Olympus in this comment, I’m making a very pointed comment about previous Olympus management.

                  Some people seem to think that the way to get past a scandal is to just bury everything and ignore what is distasteful. Not true. The way to get beyond a scandal is to be forthcoming with information, admit error, and show how you’re going to avoid repeating the problem. So far, we’ve only got one of those things (and not completely, as we don’t know what they the actual errors were yet, only that some are now acknowledged to have been made). It’s not me that’s making the problem linger, it’s Olympus management. Personally, I hope they manage to provide a full and clear recitation of what happened by Dec 14th and indicate how they’re going to operate in the future with their board of directors and upper management still implicated in the dealings.

                  • Jim

                    cant see how you were oly bashing?

                    The company has some shit going down – you were just saying it how it is?

                    I know if oly had a sensor as good as the nex 5n you wouldnt even look at a nikon ;)

                    • Despite what people may think, a minority of the shots I’ve made in the past two years are with Nikon cameras.

              • Mr. Reeee

                I was joking a bit and see your point.

                But I suspect he overstepped what was expected of him, given the honor he received. Cut costs and streamline, yes.
                Dig up the garden and uncover skeletons, NO!

                • But your attitude is exactly the same as the Olympus board of directors.

                  This is not just an Olympus problem, but it’s becoming a systemic problem worldwide: people (and governments) seem to want to give businesses a free pass on what they can do. Businesses are not perfect. Individuals aren’t perfect. Governments aren’t perfect. If we all agree to look the other way when something bad happens, we’re just going to get more and more bad things happening until eventually that’s all that happens.

                  We need people of integrity, businesses of integrity, and governments of integrity. Looking the other way won’t get us any of those.

                  • lnqe-M.

                    +1, absolute right

                  • Jim

                    The only way to do that is transparancey – moral upstanding and honrable people fail time and time again…

                    • Technically, Woodford failed. At least so far. You are correct, transparency is a key issue. Most of the transparency here is via Woodford’s revelation of what he found. I’ll stick with “we need people/businesses/governments of integrity.” Transparency is one way we measure that.

      • tofino

        Here is another way to look at it. Woodford devoted the past 30 years of his life to Olympus and through hard work and ambition made it to top management. Once he got there, he discovered that he was presiding over a company involved in massive corruption. He voiced his concerns to Kikukawa and other top board members and was rebuffed. At this point, he had to decide whether to keep quiet and remain as CEO of a corrupt company or demand that the BOD resign so that he could take steps to deal with the mess that had been created. He chose the latter option and was fired. Once he was fired, he decided to fight back and his actions over the past two months have led to his current takeover effort. I’m not sure that he is the right person to lead Oly, but I think a case can be made that his power play is justified.

  • Yun

    I not familiar with olympus management history . Is this woodford pro to olympus cameras development ? Otherwise better don’t come back .
    Meanwhile why everyone is after news of new olympus 12-60mm lens ? Is it a great lens ?

    • rrr_hhh

      There was an interview of Woodford about a week ago in a UK photo magazine (the Amateur Photographer ?). To make it short Woodford said that the Pens had turned well for the camera division, that he liked the product (it was good locking and attractive and helped the camera division to end losses) and that he would keep it. What he said however wasn’t very encouraging for the DSLRs four thirds cameras.

      • Jim

        One thing about woodford – he keeps saying Oly do good looking products and styling… I get the feeling he does not think they can compeate on image aquasition… and I think he is wrong – oly could be very very competative…

        New sensor and they are back in the game for one of the hottest cams made!

  • > A Key figure in Olympus scandal has been found in Hong Kong.

    One down. One more – Hajime Sagawa – to go. If Nakagawa would start talking, then Sagawa would have no other option than to give himself in.

    And Dec 14th is only two weeks away. Let’s see how it will turn out in the end.

    P.S. I bet, since politicians want to salvage the leading medical equipment company, the links, if any, to anti-social groups (*) would be covered and few top people (probably Kukikawa and Nakagawa/Sagawa persons (since they’re also not Japanese citizens anymore)) would be made scapegoats.

    There is no other scenario where I see Woodford willing to return to CEO position. Or better to say: there would be little left of Olympus to return to.

    (*) Some people told me that if there were any link to yakuza, they would be covered up anyway: they are called “anti-social group” for a reasons and it is socially unacceptable to even mention them.

    P.P.S. Yes, 12-60 please. And newer sensor, please. I just charted potential Panny based system for me and I see the gap: 20mm and 25mm lenses have no OIS/no IBIS/poor ISO 3200 color fidelity. I need the Oly’s IBIS. ;) (But harry up Oly, NX20 (and GH3) might fill the gap some other way).

  • Bob B.

    I read the article posted above at Reuters about Nakagawa. I do not understand why a persons needs hundreds of millions of dollars. I also do not understand why one person would be given or have access to this kind of money…um..at the expense of ALL of the normal people (who work for and make Olympus what it is), who depend on this money being used properly. Is it possible for a Japanese Jerk to be a repulblican? He is attached to Paine/Webber ..so I guess so.
    Just thinkin…..
    This s*#+ has to stop.. EVERYWHERE. I think Mr. Woodford is a “good guy”.

    • Jim

      12-60 + new sensor & 1080 60p.. in the E-p3 (4) and bang – the GX1 is history!

      Even sony would have a troublesome time bettering that combo!

      • Jim

        wrong place … intended for message above the one above :)

        • Bob B.

          Jim..its ok..also…I have a GX1 on pre-order….I also dig primes…not zooms…hope that is ok, too!? LOL!

          • Jim

            always space for 1 more prime :)

  • Ton

    Yes 12-60 please too! I’m starting to save up for this lens if this truly exist within a few months, even though I do not know the specs or the performance yet. Somehow I made up my mind that this will be my next m43 purchase ignoring the oly 9-18 & pana 7-14 or even the 12 f2.

  • @Bob B.
    the money probably came back to Olympus by the back door or is under their control.

    • Jim

      the ever optimist….

      That cash it all spent on hookers and drugs…. the rest they wasted!

      Oly won’t see a penny back!

      • @Jim
        Woodford has admitted that it may actually be the case, the “smart” way to cover a lose is “pretend” to have covered it and then bring it back in through the back door (another company that you own/control) at a later date.

        • Wow. Pretend to cover your loss. Why not just pretend to have a profit, instead? ;~) And just to be clear, Olympus never pretended to have the loss covered: they never reported it, period.

          What we know is that Olympus acquired companies that had little assets and lost money (still do) to cover up the loss. If that’s what you mean by “bring it back in through the back door” then what you’re going to discover is that these “assets” are going to have to be taken off the books completely, almost certainly resulting in a new loss.

          What makes me think you have a vested interest in Olympus?

          • @Thom Hogan
            From what I understand it was a much smaller lose reported at the time , not the huge loss that could of made Olympus go belly up in the 1990’s.
            “these “assets” are going to have to be taken off the books completely, almost certainly resulting in a new loss. ” probably true! or maybe the 687 million will turn up because AXAM Investments transfered it into a company or fund under Olympus’ control and that’s why AXAM Investments was quickly shut down.
            Woodford has said after I suggested it, that the money may be back in Olympus.

            I have a much less vested interest in Olympus than you have in Nikon.

            • I don’t understand your description of the facts that are known. “It was much smaller lose [sic] reported at the time.” Define “it” please. And “the time” also.

              The type of loss that Olympus had (apparently) in the early 90’s was an “investment loss.” They had a bunch of money, they invested it in something, that something went belly up or had a margin call or something else that would have triggered a large cash outflow that couldn’t be hidden. So instead, Olympus probably did the same thing you’d do with your bookie: pay a little and promise to pay more later. And the more became more and more. To hide that something was paid back, Olympus “acquired” non-performing companies for way more than they were worth and paid fees way more than normal.

              If I’m not mistaken, Olympus still has a huge number for Goodwill on the books and has only written down 75% of the last three acquisitions, though it’s a little hard to tell the way they disclosed information and we now know that they were falsifying their books, so we can’t trust any of the numbers they’ve actually reported.

              I’m not sure why people think that those payments would end up back at Olympus. The only way I can think of that might cause even some of the money to come back would be if they were margin called on their original investment, held it 20 years, and now it is worth more than they paid for it. Even then, you’d have to guess that there were 20 years worth of “fees” involved in hiding the margin call and keeping it off the books.

              Your answer about vested interest is interesting. It’s a politician’s answer. You didn’t deny that you have a vested interest in Olympus.

        • ckb

          Where does this money come from? Is it:

          1. The multi billion dollars that the company lost in the late 80’s early 90′? – I doubt it
          2. The fake accounting you have done for 20 years? – In your world maybe
          3. The dreck that they bought that loses money and is now pretty well worthless. – Only if the JSEC can reverse these buys and force the return of money.
          4. The camera division – nope it has not been profitable for years.
          5. Medical products division – even though profitable its still not considered a massive cash cow.
          6. Investments – nope that started this mess.
          7. YouDidntDidYou – full of something but not profit.

          • @ckb
            Olympus had 687 million cash spare to transfer as cash that is a FACT that is not disputed. It either came from company cash flow or was borrowed…
            How it is looking is that it took them 15-20 years to build up enough cash or profit to cover those losses accumulated from the 1990’s.

            • ckb

              No it was not spare cash it was added debt. Get your FACT straight.

              • @ckb
                pretty sure Olympus didn’t wire over debt. btw added debt can be part of your cash flow.

                • DonTom

                  You are one of the drollest Trolls ever to climb up on this bridge! I love the way you blow a hole in your own arguments, then just keep digging…..good work.

                  • Mr. Reeee

                    Son of Pablo ;-)

                • ckb

                  So you agree that they added debt to pay for the fee and did not have cash sitting around from being profitable. Olympus debt has not seen a significant reduction of debt if that money came back from AXAM unless it paid off debt off the books. No matter shell game was done Olympus did not profit from it.

                  It does look like Woodford is jumping from a sinking ship and trying to stay awy from the sharks. He must know enough from the board meeting that he needs to get as far away as possible from the present leadership of Olympus and the independent investigation. A month investigation to unwind 20 years of dubious accounting seems way too short. Especially since the Japanese Companies are notorious for keeping official records on paper not on computer databases. Adding errors due to haste would be not be taken well.

                  • @ckb
                    nope not agreed.

                    • Didn’t expect you to agree. As I pointed out earlier, you never learned that profit is not equal to cash and cash is not equal to profit. You’re still not learning it.

                      And that cash is now gone. So you have to put it on the financial statement somewhere. Only problem, you can’t put it on the statement to pay off debt that isn’t on the statement, which is basically the root of Olympus’ problems. They have to restate their financials. That’s going to make Olympus look far less profitable than it was during the period (which wasn’t all that profitable considering it owned a lucrative market). That in turn may trigger other issues, like callable s.

                      One thing we haven’t heard out of all this is a simple statement that the Gyrus deal was the last of the cover up. In other words, that once the Gyrus deal closed, that Olympus no longer owed anyone anything off the books. I find it worrisome that we haven’t heard such a statement, not even from the old management when they finally admitted a problem. Somewhere there’s a second set of books that have been kept (otherwise how do you settle the debt?). Given the likely players, it would be interesting to know if Olympus’ perception of the figure was the same as the shadowy folk holding the debt. In other words, is there extortion and bribery involved beyond the main problem of unstated debt?

                    • @Thom Hogan
                      actual I do know the difference between cash and profit.
                      Also I have never run an unprofitable business, or one with a negative cash flow.
                      “And that cash is now gone.” I bet everyone on the board except Woodford knew where it went and where it still is, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was suppose to turn up back on Olympus’ balance sheet at a later date.

                      “One thing we haven’t heard out of all this is a simple statement that the Gyrus deal was the last of the cover up. In other words, that once the Gyrus deal closed, that Olympus no longer owed anyone anything off the books.” I’m hoping that will be the case because if it wasn’t then I would start think that those members of the board didn’t really have Olympus best interest at heart and had some other motivation.

                      btw the one way the only interests I have in Olympus is owning a few of their lenses and one of their voice recorders.
                      Whereas you have an interest in their demise because it would help the Nikon V1 and J1 dead ducks.

    • Bob B.

      um…it reeks…like all big business people and politicians do today…all of them.
      Mr. Nakagawa lined his pockets and is trying to hide. He is dirt.

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