Olympus ousted CEO to visit Japan as he seeks to remove board

TOKYO Fri Dec 9, 2011 8:35pm EST

TOKYO Dec 10 (Reuters) - Olympus Corp's ousted CEO, Michael Woodford, will travel to Japan on Tuesday seeking support from shareholders and investors for a new management to lead the firm after a $1.7 billion accounting fraud.

Woodford will arrive in Japan on Tuesday evening and leave on Friday morning, an assistant in Tokyo said in an e-mail.

His visit comes as Olympus prepares to issue its earnings before a deadline Wednesday in order to avoid being delisted by the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Even if it met the deadline, the 92-year-old maker of endoscopes and cameras could still be dumped from the exchange if its accounting misstatements were large enough.

The board, slammed in an independent report on the accounting scandal roiling the company, has said it plans to stay in place for the time being.

Woodford will also meet candidates for any new board, the Yomiuri reported earlier. Nearly all the current directors served during Olympus's 13-year cover-up of investment losses.

Olympus has seen its existence threatened by the scandal, in which senior executives cooked the books in a $1.7 billion scheme to hide investment losses. Olympus shares have lost about half their value since Woodford blew the whistle on the accounting problems.

The independent investigative panel set up by Olympus last month and made up of six legal and accounting experts, described the management as rotten to the core.

In order to remove them, Woodford will need the support of most shareholders, including Japanese stock holders, who have yet to voice support for the former president.

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