Michael Woodford, the British ex-CEO of Olympus, learned that Japanese chairman don’t appreciate outspoken executives.He was axed after asking Tsuyoshi Kikukawa to step down over fraudulent accounting practices that took place before he became CEO earlier this year.
He was concerned about Olympus’s purchases of a few Japanese companies, and hired PwC to look into why the company paid a 58% premium for UK firm Gyrus Group, reports the Wall Street Journal.
He said this all in his letters to Kikukawa, who’s worked at Olympus for nearly 50 years.
But instead, Kikukawa hosted an emergency board meeting last Friday, where Woodward was fired and wasn’t allowed to speak, reports the Journal. The meeting lasted all of 10 minutes and the decision was unanimous by the all-Japanese board.
Now Olympus says it may sue Woodford for leaking all of this information to the public, according to an analyst at a Tokyo-based unit of Morgan Stanley (via Businessweek).
This turn of events boils down to some deep cultural differences in a country that is known for respecting its elders and having a consensus-driven corporate environment.
“I am afraid that Japan as a country [could be] regarded as uncomfortable for foreign management,” Toshiyuki Shiga, Nissan Motor Co.’s chief operating officer, told the Journal. “Japan will lose [opportunities] to recruit talented people from around the world, which is something of a pity.”
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