The Herculean task of the Olympus committee

It’s hard to square the statement by Olympus that its M&A transactions, which are now the subject of an independent investigation, “were in no way improper.”  Presumably, the propriety of the deals is up to the investigation to determine. It’s precisely that sort of statement that makes investors skeptical about the company’s commitment to shedding light on these deals. As one fund manager told Reuters, “I won’t be dealing with Olympus shares any longer until everything becomes clear.”

Ultimately, no matter how detailed and damning the committee’s report, it will be up to the board to take action. And the board hasn’t shown any willingness to take a strong stand on these issues so far.  It continues to insist that CEO Michael Woodford was fired for cultural differences, even after acknowledging that his assertions about exorbitant M&A fees were true.

It might take action by regulators or legal proceedings by Olympus shareholders to force the board’s hand – or force the board out.

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