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Olympus boss quits for wife's sake

Michael Woodford, the British boss of Olympus who blew the whistle on dubious spending at the camera and medical equipment company, has said he was dropping his bid to regain its presidency for the sake of his emotionally traumatised wife.

Mr Woodford, 51, said he would "withdraw from any further action to form an alternative slate of directors" because he had failed to win support from major institutional investors.

But he said in a statement that another reason was the emotional pain of his wife, who he said would wake up screaming at night. He said his sacking and the stress he had endured were "traumatising for all those around me".

He thanked those who had supported him, including the Japanese public and Olympus colleagues, including former board member Koji Miyata, who began a petition to bring him back.

Mr Woodford, a 30-year employee at Olympus, said some good had come of his effort by drawing attention to the dubious corporate culture, including a system of "yes-men" and weak corporate governance.

He said his battle had not been about an outsider fighting Japanese, but about someone who wanted reform versus those who had resisted it. He said he liked Japan and would visit often.

"So many individuals have come up to me to tell me that what I was doing was the right thing," he said.

The deception at Japanese firm Olympus dates back to the 1990s and involved an elaborate scheme to hide 117.7 billion yen (£967m) in investment losses.

In October Mr Woodford confronted Olympus management about the excessive spending, which later proved to be part of the cover-up, and was quickly sacked as president. Since then Olympus has admitted to the cover-up and apologised.

In an interview last month, Mr Woodford sounded upbeat about gaining support for his comeback, as non-Japanese investors as well as Japanese public were behind him. But experts had said the outcome was unclear because none of the major investors, such as Japanese mega-banks, was expressing support for Mr Woodford, which would be crucial for him to win.

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