Olympus may take legal action vs ousted CEO Woodford -Exec VP quoted

TOKYO Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:12pm IST

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TOKYO Oct 17 (Reuters) - Olympus may take legal action against ousted Chief Executive Michael Woodford accusing him of disclosing confidential information in media reports following his firing on Friday, a senior executive told investors on Monday.

Hisashi Mori, executive vice president at Olympus, spoke to investors and analysts in a conference call on Monday, according to an investor who joined the discussion.

Woodford, 51, was sacked on Friday just two weeks after the company had promoted the Briton from president.

Mori reiterated that Woodford was let go because of management differences, stating that Olympus board members had harboured doubts about the CEO before his promotion, the investor said on condition that he not be identified.

Mori also confirmed that Woodford on Thursday had sought his resignation and that of Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who replaces Woodford as CEO, over payments made in 2008 to financial advisers in the purchase of British medical equipment maker Gyrus.

In media reports published on Monday, Woodford was cited as saying those fees amounted to $687 million, or 36.1 percent of the transaction price.

Mori told investors on the conference call that the amount, although expensive, was less than half that figure. He declined, however, to give the exactly amount.

On Monday, Olympus's stock plummeted 24 percent, extending an 18 percent fall on Friday, wiping out $3.2 billion in market value from the Japanese precision instrument and camera maker.

Mori apologised for the loss to shareholders resulting from that stock tumble. He also said that no plan was yet in place to pick a new CEO, the investor told Reuters. (Reporting by Tim Kelly and Maki Shiraki; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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