Panasonic says no plan now to invest in Olympus

Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp has no plan at present to invest in medical equipment maker Olympus Corp, which is struggling to recover from an accounting scandal, Panasonic President Fumio Ohtsubo said on Thursday.

Kyodo news agency reported on Wednesday that Panasonic is making final arrangements to provide up to 50 billion yen in capital to Olympus.

Shareholders’ equity in Olympus was 4.6 percent of its total assets as of the end of March, far below the 20 percent level widely regarded as indicative of financial stability for a company.

Olympus last year admitted it used improper accounting to conceal huge investment losses under a scheme that began in the 1990s, after sacked British CEO Michael Woodford raised concerns in October about dubious book-keeping.

Left with a dented balance sheet, the firm has considered bringing in a strategic investor, with Sony Corp, Fujifilm Holdings Corp and Terumo Corp also among possible candidates.

Panasonic posted a record net loss in last financial year on a slump in demand for its televisions and there has been speculation that the company, which has a small healthcare business, is interested in expanding in the industry as it offers more stable revenues.

Olympus shares, which surged to as high as 1,380 yen earlier in the day, were down 0.5 percent at 1,331 yen after Ohtsubo’s comment.

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

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