JAPAN — Olympus Corporation has tentatively appointed Stefan Kaufmann as director, representative executive officer, president, and CEO.

Kaufmann’s appointment will take effect in April, pending board approval, said Tokyo-based Olympus Corp.

It said Kaufmann will lead Olympus’ expansion in the med-tech field, ensuring the company adapts to clinical needs and requirements.

Kaufmann, a German who has worked at Olympus for more than two decades, will succeed Yasuo Takeuchi, who helped guide the company’s transition from its roots in cameras and other consumer electronics to medical technology.

I am honored and humbled at the opportunity to serve as the next director, representative executive officer, president, and CEO of Olympus,” Kaufmann said.

Olympus, which began as a microscope manufacturer over a century ago, announced in August that it had agreed to sell its microscope unit to private equity firm Bain Capital for 427.6 billion yen (US$3.1 billion), the Japanese company’s largest divestment.

The change in leadership comes 11 years after the company was embroiled in an accounting scandal exposed by its first foreign CEO, Michael Woodford.

Yasuo Takeuchi currently fills the roles that Olympus appointed Kaufmann to. He is promoted to director, representative executive officer, chair, and ESG officer.

The board of directors of Olympus intends to formally approve the changes at the end of March 2023. As part of its value creation strategy, it expects the leadership transition to strengthen the Olympus management foundation.

In a news release, Olympus said Takeuchi led its “recent transformation journey to becoming a leading global medtech company.”

The company plans for Kaufmann to lead the effort to elevate the standard of care in targeted diseases. It expects him to accelerate growth at the company.

Takeuchi has been in his current position for four years. During his tenure, he oversaw the company’s imaging and scientific solutions businesses as well as its renewed focus on medtech.

At Olympus, he implemented a number of operational and structural changes with the implementation of a slew of operational changes and structural reforms that improved efficiency, innovation, and customer care.

Among the notable accomplishments is the transformation of the governance structure into a nomination committee structure.

This has resulted in a smaller executive management structure, which has streamlined the internal decision-making process.

Takeuchi also stated that Kaufmann assisted in the implementation of Olympus initiatives and in shaping the company’s future direction. He noted that the two had worked closely together for more than 15 years.

Kaufmann has over two decades of senior management experience. During his time at Olympus, he has been instrumental in driving change in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region.

It is still uncommon for a non-Japanese to lead a Japanese corporation. According to Tokyo-based consultant Cissoko and Co., foreigners lead about 7.3% of Japanese companies, compared to 33.7% in the United States.

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