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Olympus – still reeling from a £1.1bn accounting scandal – plans to axe 2,500 employees and sell an equity stake to either Sony or Panasonic to bolster its finances, according to reports in the Japanese press.
The massive corporate fraud was uncovered in 2011 by its then CEO turned whistleblower, Michael Woodford, who on Tuesday won a multi-million pound, out-of-court unfair dismissal settlement in a dramatic, last-minute deal at a Docklands employment tribunal.
Olympus confessed to covering up huge loss-making securities in off-shore tax havens since the early 1990s.
The job cull is expected to come primarily from the Japanese electronics giant’s loss-making camera business and through consolidation at its overseas plants.
While Sony and Panasonic are widely tipped to inject fresh equity into Olympus – whose shares rose 4% on the news – both are struggling with their own record losses.
Panasonic is pondering plans to shelve up to half its 7,000-strong workforce at its headquarters, after it culled 17,000 jobs in the year ended March 31. Sony, meanwhile, is set to send 10,000 of its staff onto the dole queue.
Olympus remains the world’s number one in the endoscopy market – an area that has continued to generate much needed funds in the aftermath of the scandal.
In January this year, auditors KPMG and Ernst & Young were cleared of responsibility for the fraud by a panel of lawyers appointed by the company.
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