Japan's scandal-hit Olympus Corp will wait until a management overhaul in late April before bringing in a potential strategic partner, its president said on Wednesday, signaling the firm is in no hurry to shore up its finances.
A $1.7 billion accounting fraud has severely depleted the camera and medical equipment maker's net assets, but it is being supported by major Japanese shareholders who prefer bringing in an equity partner to selling the whole company or its assets.
Sony Corp, Panasonic and Fujifilm Holdings are among firms that media reports and market talk have put into the frame as potential partners for Olympus, hoping to gain access to its lucrative business in diagnostic endoscopes.
Olympus President Shuichi Takayama told a news conference that the current leadership would remain in office for another three months as the company prepared for an extraordinary shareholders' meeting in the latter half of April.
That is despite the fact that more than half of its board of directors, including Takayama himself, are being sued by Olympus for mismanagement over the accounting fraud.
The company had previously said the highly anticipated shareholders' meeting, when the board is due to be replaced by a new team, would be held sometime in March or April.
The new team will set the direction for specific tie-ups, Takayama said.
He added that a company-appointed panel reviewing Olympus' options for reform and restructuring would need to decide on new board candidates by mid-March, to be ready for the late-April meeting.
Olympus shares have lost half their value since the accounting scandal broke three months ago, when it sacked its British chief executive, Michael Woodford, who later blew the whistle over the firm's questionable bookkeeping.
(Additional reporting by Mayumi Negishi; Writing by Edmund Klamann; Editing by Mark Bendeich)