M & A wrap: The man at war with Olympus
Michael Woodford asked too many questions. That’s the reason the 51-year-old Englishman gives for why he lost his job as the first-ever foreign-born CEO at Japanese camera maker Olympus a mere two weeks after he was given the role in early October.
Woodford tells Reuters investigative reporters Kirstin Ridley and Alexander Smith in a new special report that it was his inquiries into a series of questionable takeover deals and advisor payouts the company made over the past half decade, including the biggest mergers and acquisitions fee ever, that led to his ouster. Board members insist instead it was Woodford’s failure to grasp the company’s management style and Japanese culture that cost him the job, but Woodford says allegations of a “power grab” by him are not the “real story”. Now, Woodford is on a one-man campaign to “cleanse” Olympus with the goal of removing its entire board.
Giving in to pressure from many corners, Olympus on Tuesday named six men, including a former Japanese supreme court justice, to investigate the past M&A deals at the core of the scandal in a bid to stem an exodus of irate investors. The all-Japanese committee will look into $687 million in payments made to a financial adviser for the $2 billion purchase of British medical equipment maker Gyrus in 2008 and the acquisition of three companies in Japan that Olympus, under chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa’s decade-long reign at the company, later largely wrote off.
Who can get to market first? That’s the question some may be asking today after Lashou Group, China’s leading daily-deals website, filed for an initial public offering on the Nasdaq. The firm’s business model is similar to that of U.S. deals site Groupon, which is also currently in the process of filing its books for an IPO. Lashou plans to raise up to $100 million in the offering, most of which it plans to use for expanding its marketing efforts and delivery systems.
Meanwhile, Groupon has once again amended its prospectus just days before the company is expected to price its intitial public offering. As DealBook reports, the updated filing notes that the company had completed a 2-for-1 split of its voting common stock. The firm did not increase the price range of its offering from the current $16 to $18 a share, despite strong investor demand.
MF Global Holdings Ltd (MF.N), the futures broker that filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, failed to keep its customers’ accounts separate from the firm’s funds, its main exchange regulator said on Tuesday. Mixing customer funds with company money violates a key tenet of futures brokerage. Donohue’s statement on Tuesday raises questions about statements from CME and other exchanges as recently as Friday that MF Global was a clearing member “in good standing.”