Report: Panasonic to become major Olympus shareholder with $635M investment

Japan's Olympus ($OCPNY), the maker of medical and camera equipment rocked by a damaging accounting scandal last year, appears to have found a new investor. Electronics giant Panasonic wants to pour in between 30 billion yen ($380 million) and 50 billion yen ($635 million) into the company, according to Bloomberg and a Kyodo News story cited by Reuters.

The move will make Panasonic the company's top shareholder, giving it "a new source of revenue by forming an alliance with Olympus in its mainline operation of medical devices," Reuters cites the Kyodo article as stating, based on the usual "unidentified sources" who are familiar with what's happening. (Olympus and Panasonic both denied to Bloomberg that they leaked the news.)

Panasonic itself makes a number of medical device-related products, including flat panel display monitors and radiation measurement systems. And the company is serious about expanding in the healthcare space. In April, Panasonic's North America division launched a new healthcare unit that consolidates the former Panasonic Healthcare Group and Sanyo Biomedical Solutions and will focus on digital hearing instruments and pharmacy automation technology, among other products.

But Olympus gains a big infusion in the wake of a damaging financial scandal. The world's largest maker of endoscopes was forced to acknowledge late last year that it hid $1.7 billion in losses over 20 years, a move that wiped out almost half the value of its shares. In the fallout, the company brought in new leadership and forced its entire board to resign. It has also launched a slew of products, including a refreshed gastrointestinal video endoscopy system and a low-cost endoscopic videoscope system, among other new products, in a bid to put the scandal behind it.

Bloomberg reports that the company's shareholders loved the news, driving the price up by 3.5%.

- here's the Bloomberg story
- read Reuterstake