May 30, 2012 / 12:16 AM / 5 years ago

Sony, Panasonic top candidates for Olympus tie-up: Asahi

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese electronics firms Sony Corp and Panasonic Corp are the leading contenders to take an equity stake in Japan's scandal-hit Olympus Corp (7733.T), the Asahi Shimbun said on Wednesday in a report that sent Olympus shares surging.

Olympus, a maker of medical equipment and cameras, is struggling to recover from a $1.7 billion accounting fraud which forced it to correct years of misleading accounts and left it with a paper-thin equity ratio.

Olympus has narrowed the field of candidates to Sony or Panasonic, and will likely make a decision by end-June, the paper said. The winner would likely take more than a 10 percent stake worth several tens of billions of yen, the paper said, equal to several hundreds of millions of dollars.

Olympus shares surged as much as 9 percent on the news to a month high of 1,276 yen, though the stock has still lost half its value since the scandal broke in October last year.

Panasonic shares fell 2.4 percent and Sony lost 2 percent, both lagging the wider Tokyo market which was down 0.7 percent.

Olympus, Sony and Panasonic declined to comment on the report.

The newspaper also said Olympus President Hiroyuki Sasa would reveal the company's five-year business plan on June 8 and that it would include a plan to slash about 2,500 jobs, or 7.4 percent of its workforce.

Sasa this month said the company would consider all options to boost capital, including equity tie-ups and third-party share allocations.

Olympus had been concealing investment losses for 13 years when suspicions of fraud surfaced last October. The firm's then British chief executive, Michael Woodford, blew the whistle on some unusual bookkeeping and it was later revealed that a small group of executives had been running the scheme to hide losses.

Woodford on Tuesday won a likely multi-million dollar settlement of his claim for unfair dismissal.

Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Chris Gallagher

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