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December 13, 2011

Olympus reveals $1.1 balance sheet hole

Olympus cameras and medical equipment firm has reported a $1.1bn reduction in net assets for the past five years, threatening the future viability of the company and sparking speculation the camera maker will need to merge in order to survive.

The statement was offered just hours before the Tokyo Stock Exchange deadline and ensures that Olympus, for now, cannot be delisted.

Olympus’ auditor Ernst & Young ShinNihon and former auditor KPMG ASZA are being investigated by authorities over their audit work for the company.

Olympus’ most recent restatement, for the year to 30 June 2011, showed an ¥ 84bn ($1.08 billion) reduction in net assets. Olympus said as of the end of September its net assets were just ¥ 46bn down from a restated ¥ 225bn in March 2007.

Olympus revealed a net loss of ¥ 32bn yen in the six months to end-September.

The Olympus scandal came to light after Michael Woodford, the ousted chief executive, prompted questions over questionable acquisition deals, after being fired by the firm two months ago.

Woodford went back to Japan on Tuesday in an attempt to replace Olympus directors. The ousted chief executive told Reuters his choice would be to avoid taking into any strategic alliance with other companies. If he returned he would instead recapitalise the camera and medical equipment maker within a few months and would favour investment by private equity or a rights issue to raise cash.

 

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