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November 17, 2011

Olympus shares drop as de-listing looms

The shares of Olympus have fallen by an additional 16.3% as pressure mounts to de-list the company from the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), following revelations of accounting fraud.

Olympus has to file its quarterly report by 14 December to the TSE or face de-listing.

“If the company does not submit the quarterly report within one month of the statutory submission deadline (up to 14 December, 2011), stocks of the company shall be delisted,” the TSE said in statement.

Ernst & Young (E&Y) ShinNihon is Olympus’ auditor after taking over from KPMG ASZA in 2009.

In a letter to the TSE, the Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA) said while it finds the alleged misstatements of Olympus “deeply troubling”, delisting could push the company and its stakeholders into even bigger trouble.

“Delisting would complicate the company’s efforts to return to normal operations as soon as possible,” the ACGA said.

Friday’s fillings showed that Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mitsubishi UFJ Trust & Banking Corp, Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co and Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co have followed the lead of several other shareholders in reducing their collective stake in Olympus, which highlights uncertainty over the future of the company.

The scandal came to light after Michael Woodford, Olympus’s ousted chief executive, asked questions about excessive advisory payments it made in its 2008 acquisition of the UK medical equipment maker Gyrus, worth $2.2bn.

Olympus has since admitted some of those fees were “used in part” to help hide losses on investment securities.

New York Times said it obtained a memo by Japan’s Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission, the Tokyo prosecutor’s office and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, which alleges $4.9 billion is unaccounted for and that an investigation is taking place to determine whether much of that money went to companies with links to organised crime.

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