Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp said on Monday that it has proposed an alliance with scandal-hit medical equipment maker Olympus Corp, which is looking to shore up its finances after a $1.7 billion (1.0 billion pounds) accounting fraud.
Olympus, which holds a 70 percent share of the global market for diagnostic endoscopes, has seen its net assets severely depleted after the scandal, but is being supported by major Japanese shareholders who prefer bringing in an equity partner to selling the whole company or its assets.
We consider ourselves the best partner for a business tie-up that would allow for maintaining global competitiveness while contributing to the general development of the medical industry, Shigehiro Nakajima, Fujifilm's representative director, told a news conference. He noted that Fujifilm has knowledge in Olympus's main business area of endoscopes.
Fujifilm's operating profit for the three months to December was 26.5 billion yen (220 million pounds), lower than the average forecast of four analysts for a profit of 37.5 billion yen.
Analysts have said that a tie-up between Olympus and Fujifilm, which holds about 15 percent of the global diagnostic endoscope market, could be hindered by Japan's antimonopoly rules.
But Nakajima, who said his firm sees synergies between Olympus's endoscopes and Fujifilm's IT systems, ultra-sound and X-ray technologies, added that there were areas in which the two rivals could cooperate without infringing on antitrust rules.
Fujifilm has made a proposal through Olympus's financial adviser Nikko SMBC, he said, but declined to comment on the ownership pattern.
Medical equipment maker Terumo Corp also said on Monday that it wants to strengthen its relationship with Olympus and that there are various options regarding its relationship with the firm.
But Terumo, which already has a small stake in Olympus, refrained to comment on whether it is looking at boosting capital ties with the firm.
Olympus President Shuichi Takayama has said that any decisions on tie-ups should be made by a new management team that is set to take over in April. (Writing by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Chris Gallagher)