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Scandal-hit Olympus plans to axe staff, flog off stake – reports

Japanese newspapers say firm could lay off 2,500 staff

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Japan's Olympus is planning to cut 2,500 staff and sell an equity stake to either Sony or Panasonic, in a bid to get out from under its $1.7bn fraud scandal, local media reported.

Olympus is still reeling from the discovery of accounting fraud, outed by then-CEO Michael Woodford. Brit Woodford claimed he was sacked when he tried to get to the bottom of some irregularities on Olympus' books, eventually leading to the exposure of massive fraud at the company.

Once the truth was out, Olympus had to correct years of its accounts, leaving it much worse off than it had said it was.

Most of the jobs will be going from the firm's camera unit and overseas factories, Reuters reported the Nikkei as saying.

The company is also planning to sell a piece of itself off to get some cash back into its coffers. The Asahi newspaper said that Sony and Panasonic were the leading possibilities to scoop up a stake of 10 per cent or more in Olympus for hundreds of millions of dollars.

The papers said that the staff cuts would be announced at the start of June and a decision on the stake sale by the end of June.

Olympus released a statement on its website that didn't confirm the reports, but didn't exactly deny them either.

"Certain sections of the media have reported today regarding the capital alliance and medium term plan of Olympus Corporation, which is not a fact that it was decided by the company (sic)," the statement said.

"The company will immediately disclose any further important information when it comes to light." ®

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