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Olympus Chairman to step down amid public row

Tsuyoshi Kikukawa is to leave Olympus after coming under fire over undisclosed payments made in a 2008 acquisition.

Story highlights

  • Olympus Chairman and President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa resigns with immediate effect
  • Follows recent removal of British CEO and President Michael Woodford
  • Woodford has questioned the size of a fee paid for a 2008 takeover

Olympus Chairman and President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa is stepping down with immediate effect, the Japanese camera maker said Wednesday.

Kikukawa's resignation comes less than two weeks after he took control of the company following the removal of CEO and President Michael Woodford.

The Briton claimed he was fired after questioning the size of the fee paid to an advisory firm during the 2008 acquisition of British-based medical equipment supplier, Gyrus.

In an interview with CNN Tuesday, Woodford said: "Olympus has paid three quarters of a billion dollars and we don't know what for. It's been paid to parties we can't identify in the Cayman Islands."

Woodford said he had been advised of possible links to organized crime and that he expected the issue to be investigated.

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"It's all in the public now," he said. "I've passed my correspondence to the world's media, the SFO; I'm now in communication with the FBI. This can't be hidden, this can't be put away in a box.

    "This won't go away until Mr. Kikukawa answers in specific and definitive terms for what and to who three quarters of a billion dollars (was paid)."

    Woodford added that Olympus had paid the largest fee for any M&A (Merger & Acquisition) in the history of capitalism.

    "It was three times what was paid when RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) bought ABN Amro and that was a 70 billion euro transaction," he said, adding that this was 50 times bigger than the Gyrus deal.

    The company revealed current board member Shuichi Takayama will take over Kikukawa's role.

    A statement from the company read: "In consideration of the widespread concerns to Olympus' shareholders, due to the recent series of media reports and fall in the stock prices triggered by the Company's change in President on October 14, 2011, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa has, as of today, stepped down from his position as company's representative and also from his position as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer."

    After losing almost have their value after Woodford's dismissal, shares in Olympus rebounded Thursday, jumping 13% to 1,242 yen ($16.33).