November 4, 2011 / 1:03 AM / 7 years ago

Olympus delays earnings announcement; shares plunge

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Olympus Corp said it won’t announce its quarterly earnings on November 8 as expected because it needs more time after appointing an external panel to look into past deals, sparking a fresh plunge in the firm’s shares.

A spokesman for the scandal-hit maker of cameras and endoscopes said Olympus aimed to release the July-September figures in mid to late November, and would not necessarily wait for the panel to reveal its findings.

“The decision to delay is not due to any issues pointed out by external parties,” said the spokesman. “We simply feel it would be difficult to hold an earnings conference under the current circumstances.”

Olympus on Tuesday named six men, including a former Japanese supreme court justice, to investigate past M&A deals at the core of a scandal engulfing it in a bid to stem an exodus of investors. The panel has set no deadline to complete its investigation.

Listed firms in Japan are usually required to report quarterly earnings within 45 days after the end of the period. Failure to comply can result in the company being delisted.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange said the usual time limit for reporting July-September earnings is November 14 and approval to report any later needs to come from the government, a spokeswoman for the exchange said.

Shares in Olympus dived as much as 12 percent after the news, before paring losses to end the morning down 7.3 percent at 1,113 yen.

The company has lost about 60 percent of its value since it suddenly fired British CEO Michael Woodford last month, saying he failed to understand the company’s management style or Japanese culture.

Woodford said he was forced out for probing astronomical fees paid in the $2 billion acquisition of British medical equipment company Gyrus in 2008, as well as three other acquisitions of small Japanese firms whose value had been largely written off after the purchases.

The investigative panel has expressed interest in talking to Woodford.

Many Japanese firms held their annual earnings announcements later than usual this year, as they scrambled to clarify the effects of the March 11 earthquake. But it is unusual to put off an announcement once the date has been made public.

Most analysts have dropped coverage of Olympus due to the lack of clarity over its past deals.

Editing by Joseph Radford and Miyoung Kim

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