February 13, 2012 / 6:46 AM / 8 years ago

Scandal-hit Olympus forecasts $412 mln annual loss

TOKYO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Japan’s Olympus Corp , which is trying to recover from a massive accounting scandal that battered its balance sheet, forecast on Monday a 32 billion yen ($412 million) full-year net loss, dragged down in large part by its ailing camera business.

The loss estimate for the fiscal year ending March 31, compared with a 3.9 billion yen net profit made in the previous year, highlights the camera and medical-equipment maker’s urgent need to shore up its finances in the wake of the $1.7 billion fraud.

Fujifilm Holdings, Sony Corp, Panasonic and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics are speculated to be among potential investment partners, attracted to Olympus’ profitable endoscope business.

But Olympus President Shuichi Takayama has said that a decision on any major moves such as an equity tie-up would have to wait until the installation of new management after the company’s April shareholders’ meeting.

For its October-December fiscal third quarter, Olympus, which holds a 70 percent share of the global market for diagnostic endoscopes, reported a 756 million yen net loss, compared with a 2.04 billion yen net profit a year earlier.

Olympus in December had withdrawn its annual forecast for an 18 billion yen net profit due to uncertainty about the impact of the scandal.

The accounting scandal erupted when Olympus fired its British chief executive Michael Woodford on Oct. 14, after he had raised questions about the firm’s dubious book-keeping.

Shares of Olympus have fallen by about half since then, leaving it with a market value of just $4.5 billion.

On Monday, the stock finished up 0.4 percent at 1,282 yen, against a 0.6 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei average.

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