George Clooney and Ryan Gosling at TIFF
Michael Woodford, 51, took over as president in April after 30 years at the company, becoming one of only a handful of non-Japanese to run a large Japanese corporation.In a blunt statement, the board of Olympus said Woodford “has largely diverted from the rest of the management team in regard to the management direction and method and it is now causing problems for decision-making by the management team.”Woodford — who in a recent magazine interview was equally blunt about his management style — told Reuters in May he would cut jobs to achieve his mid-term cost targets and reverse a slump in earnings while avoiding forced redundancies in Japan for cultural reasons.Japanese boards rarely dismiss top executives, even when the company is struggling. The boards are often criticized by corporate governance advocates for failing to hold management accountable on behalf of shareholders.Olympus said Woodford was “unanimously” dismissed as president and chief executive officer, but will remain as a director until that position is voted upon at the next annual shareholders meeting.The company’s chairman, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, will take over as president and chief executive.”We hoped that he could do things that would be difficult for a Japanese executive to do, but he was not able to understand that we needed to reflect the management style we have built up since the company was established 92 years ago, as well as Japanese culture,” Kikukawa told a news conference.Efforts to contact Woodford, who had previously been responsible for overseeing a restructuring of the firm’s European operations, were unsuccessful.The news drove Olympus’ shares down more than 17 percent to a one-month low of 2,052 yen at one stage. By early afternoon, the stock was down 15 percent. More than 19 million shares were traded, 10 times the average volume over the past 30 days.CONFRONTATIONALWoodford acknowledged previously his management style could be confrontational and in a recent interview with the magazine of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan he highlighted the difficulties of instigating change in Japan’s corporate culture.”I understand why Japan gets tagged with the ‘unique’ label; it’s one of the most impenetrable cultures for outsiders,” he told the magazine.”Status quo is still very powerful in Japan. When you change something, you close something or withdraw from something, you will get resistance based on my predecessor’s decisions, especially when something is seen as sacrosanct or a holy cow,” he said. “I can be opinionated, loud-mouthed, strong-headed and direct.”Olympus has struggled in the camera business.The company made 35.4 billion yen ($460 million) in operating profit for the year to March 2011, down 41 percent on the previous year, as its struggling camera division held back the healthy medical equipment unit.The camera division lost 15 billion yen in the year to March 2011. Woodford was appointed after being credited with successfully cutting costs at the company’s European division.”What exactly happened at Olympus is not clear, but personal differences among corporate managers happen everywhere, so his situation is not necessarily just because he was a foreign manager at a Japanese firm,” said Koichi Ogawa, a chief portfolio manager at Daiwa SB Investments, who does not own Olympus shares.Other foreigners who hold top posts in Japan include: Howard Stringer, the Welsh-born CEO of Sony Corp; Craig Naylor of Nippon Sheet Glass; and Carlos Ghosn, the Lebanese-Brazilian president of Nissan Motor Co.The last time a major Japanese company fired its president was in April last year, when struggling watchmaker Seiko Holdings sacked its president for “dogmatic” management and for not dealing with a prolonged slump at its upscale flagship retail unit Wako.
* ETF assets under management fell 1.8 pct in Q3TORONTO, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Assets managed in exchange traded funds in Canada dropped by 3 percent to C$39.1 billion ($38.3 billion) in September due to slumping equity markets, though inflows to the funds were positive, according to a report released on Wednesday.Canadian ETFs overall had net inflows of C$1.1 billion in September, said the monthly report from the Canadian ETF arm of New York-based BlackRock , the world’s largest money manager.ETFs are investment vehicles that own an array of stocks, similar to mutual funds, but which have shares that are traded on public exchanges.For the third quarter, ETF assets in Canada dropped 1.8 percent, largely due to a more than 12 percent slide on the Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index.Net inflows into Canadian ETFs in the quarter were more than C$2.5 billion, BlackRock said.A total of fifteen new ETF were introduced in the three-month period, for a total of 213.Low fees and greater transparency have helped ETFs attract strong investment inflows in recent years. Unlike mutual fund shares, which are re-priced once a day, the price of an ETF is publicly quoted and visible throughout the day.BlackRock’s Canadian iShares business had a market share of 68.4 percent in September, down 0.2 percentage points from its August report. Its assets under management were C$26.7 billion, compared with C$27.70 billion a month earlier.Claymore Investments’ market share held steady at 15.8 percent, with C$6.2 billion in ETF assets under management.Horizon ETF assets were at C$3.09 billion, down from C$3.19 billion, and Bank of Montreal’s fell to C$2.69 billion from C$2.74 billion.Royal Bank of Canada was a new entrant in the Canadian ETF market in the month, with C$32 million in assets. It joins recent entries Invesco Trimark’s PowerShares, with C$340 million, up from C$315 million, and XTF Capital eXchange Traded Funds, with C$50 million, down from C$56 million.Vanguard Group, one of the biggest mutual fund and ETF managers in the United States, also plans to set up shop in Canada.