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Olympus names president/CEO in multi-tiered transformation plan

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Olympus names president/CEO in multi-tiered transformation plan

Olympus Corp. appointed Yasuo Takeuchi president and CEO, as part of the company's multi-tiered transformation plan.

Takeuchi is the Japanese company's vice president and CFO. He will succeed Hiroyuki Sasa, who has led the company since 2012. Sasa will become a board director.

Yasushi Sakai, who serves as chief improvement officer, will take over as CFO. Takeuchi and Sakai will be joined by Akihiro Taguchi as COO, Haruo Ogawa as chief technology officer and Stefan Kaufmann as chief administrative officer, rounding out the company's new executive management team.

Taguchi is currently head of the sales and marketing group, business management officer of the medical business and head of general surgery business unit, while Kaufmann is currently regional representative officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Ogawa is chief technology officer and head of the research and development group.

All appointments will take effect April 1.

Tokyo-based Olympus, which manufactures testing devices such as gastrointestinal endoscopes, will seek shareholder backing for changes to the board's structure at its annual shareholder meeting in June.

As part of the changes, Olympus will nominate three new non-Japanese board members, including Rob Hale, a partner at ValueAct Capital Management LP, a major Olympus shareholder.

In early December 2018, ValueAct, a San Francisco-based activist hedge fund, warned that it would seek an emergency shareholder meeting to call for the replacement of Olympus' entire board, the Financial Times reported, citing a person with knowledge of the discussions.

ValueAct has forced Olympus to take in three foreign board members for the first time since former Olympus President Michael Woodford was dismissed in 2011 amid an accounting scandal, the FT noted.

Additionally, Olympus will reorganize its medical device business into two global divisions: endoscopic solutions and therapeutic solutions. The company currently has five divisions.

The endoscopic solutions division will be managed from Japan and will consist of gastrointestinal, respiratory and surgical endoscopy capital products; software; reprocessing; repair service; and system integration.

Meanwhile, the therapeutic solutions division will be managed from the U.S. and will consist of endotherapy devices for gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases; energy and other surgical single-use devices; and urology, gynecology and ear, nose and throat products.

Olympus will also increase focus on cost containment and capital efficiency efforts, starting with freezing its selling, general and administrative expenses for fiscal 2020, including R&D at the fiscal 2018 level, starting April 1. Fiscal 2019 will remain at the current guidance level.

Olympus said it is also developing longer-term cost savings programs, which will be finalized and announced together with the revised strategic plan. The company will also review its capital expenditure level across business units to improve free cash flow available for shareholder return and M&A investment.

Olympus shares gained 9.88% to ¥4,005.00 at business close Jan. 11.

As of Jan. 10, US$1 was equivalent to 108.30 Japanese yen.