Olympus stock slides on possible fresh wrongdoing

Wed Aug 1, 2012 4:53am EDT
 
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Olympus Corp's shares slid on Wednesday after the scandal-battered endoscope and camera maker revealed it may have broken a U.S. law that bans corporations from offering bribes to win business in overseas markets.

The 6.8 percent tumble in Olympus' stock also followed a surprise lawsuit by medical equipment maker Terumo Corp, which is vying with Sony Corp, FujiFilm Holdings and other companies to inject money into the cash-strapped company in return for a stake.

Olympus in October told the U.S. Department of Justice about travel, meal and entertainment expenses paid by its U.S. subsidiary to doctors in a training program in Brazil that may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, company spokesman Osamu Kobayashi said on Wednesday, confirming an earlier Bloomberg report.

Bloomberg on Wednesday quoted Chairman Yasuyuki Kimoto as saying in a July 23 interview, "We understand DOJ is trying to gather lots of information on us."

"Olympus might have to be investigated further because of this," said Nanako Imazu, an analyst at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets in Tokyo. That whiff of fresh trouble is a concern for jittery Olympus investors, she noted.

Kimoto also told Bloomberg that the enquiries into Olympus' U.S. unit may be part of a wider industry probe.

STRONG-ARM TACTICS?

The decision by Terumo to seeks damages for loss of shareholder value from the accounting fraud that rocked Olympus last year might be a tactic by Japan's leading maker of catheters and artificial hearts to garner more attention for its tie-up proposal, one corporate governance expert said.

Olympus said in a statement on Wednesday it had received a claim for 6.6 billion yen ($84 million) in damages from Terumo.   Continued...

 
A man sits near a logo of Japan's Olympus Corp at the company headquarters in Tokyo June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao