Olympus settles with ex-CEO; braces for job cuts, restructuring
posted Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 11:00 AM EST
More than seven months after the abrupt dismissal of whistleblower Michael Woodford, Japan's Olympus Corp. has reached a settlement with its former president and CEO, reports Associated Press correspondent Yuri Kageyama. The last-minute deal comes right as Woodford's claim of unfair dismissal was to be heard before an employment tribunal in London. The AP article, redistributed by Bloomberg Businessweek, notes that terms of the deal haven't been made public, however Woodford is widely rumored to have accepted a £10m settlement.
Near-simultaneously, Japanese media is reporting that Olympus will soon announce plans to shed around 2,500 jobs, mostly from its camera business. According to the Nikkei business daily, as cited by Reuters, the cuts equate to around 7% of the company's total workforce, and would be accompanied by consolidation of Olympus' overseas production facilities.
The Reuters piece also reports a claim by the Asahi newspaper that Olympus is considering selling a stake of more than ten percent, expected to be worth several hundred million dollars. Consumer electronics giants Sony and Panasonic--themselves preparing for large layoffs--are the leading contenders to take a stake in Olympus, according to Asahi. In a German-language interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, Fujifilm president and CEO Shigetaka Komori confirmed earlier reports when he revealed that the company has also made an offer to Olympus.
More details on the troubled camera maker's future are expected to be forthcoming early next month. For its part, Olympus has neither confirmed nor denied these reports, stating simply that it was "not a fact that it was decided by the Company".