Michael Woodford gives up Olympus bid

THE ousted British boss of Olympus, who blew the whistle on a £1 billion accounting fraud, has dropped his bid to return to lead the camera maker, blaming cosy ties between its management and big Japanese shareholders and saying the saga had taken its toll on his family.

Michael Woodford’s campaign against the firm’s management rocked the once-proud maker of endoscopes and cameras, but failed to win over Japanese institutional shareholders including Olympus’ main lenders, who support a board that has been castigated for insufficient oversight.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Despite one of the biggest scandals in history, the Japanese institutional shareholders have not spoken one single word of criticism, in complete and utter contrast to the overseas shareholders who were demanding accountability,” Woodford said in Tokyo yesterday.

The decision by Woodford, who was fired in October after just two weeks as chief executive, leaves foreign shareholders who want a new line-up of directors without a champion to lead any proxy battle when the company convenes an extraordinary shareholders meeting as early as March.