Lenovo Shakes Up Management; CEO Ward Out

Lenovo CEO Stephen M. Ward Jr. is stepping down from his post nearly a year after the Chinese PC maker acquired IBM's ThinkPad division in a market-shifting deal. Assuming the leadership of the aspiring company is William J. Amelio, who will hold the title of president and CEO.

In a statement released this afternoon, Lenovo chairman Yang Yuanqing said that all parties agreed this was the right time for a leadership change.

"With our integration of IBM's PC Division on track and our organizational integration complete, we are accelerating our planning for our next phase of growth. [Ward] and Lenovo's board agreed that now is the right time for this transition. Bill Amelio's combined experience--in our industry, in emerging and mature markets, in senior operational roles and with IBM--gives him the perfect profile to lead Lenovo from the important stability we have achieved in the first phase of our integration to the profitable growth and efficiency improvement to which we are committed in our next phase."

"I am very excited to lead this ground-breaking global enterprise," said Amelio in a statement. "Lenovo provides me a unique chance to draw on the skills I have developed in every component of my career. Lenovo has a solid foundation in place and enormous opportunities, and I look forward to working with Yuanqing and the entire team to continue the drive to enhance profitable growth."

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Attempts to reach Lenovo for additional comment were not returned.

Amelio comes to Lenovo by way of Dell, where he most recently served as senior vice president. He was also president of Dell's Asia-Pacific and Japan operations. He has a long IT executive lineage, having held senior posts at NCR, Honeywell International, AlliedSignal and IBM.

Amelio will assume his new post immediately. Lenovo says Ward will assume a consulting role to ensure a smooth transition.

"Yuanqing and I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. Bringing in Bill Amelio is a great move. Lenovo is an incredible company, and I have great confidence in its future success," Ward said in a statement.

Ward joined Lenovo following its acquisition of the IBM Personal Computing Division last May. A 26-year veteran of IBM's executive corps, Ward had served as senior vice president and general manager of the Personal Systems Group, IBM's CIO of Business Transformation, general manager of the Global Industrial Sector, and general manager of ThinkPad.

While Lenovo is giving no reason for the sudden change, Yang did praise Ward for his work during the integration of the two companies: "Steve Ward successfully helped to create a single, global PC company from two distinct organizations. As a result, we have created significant value for our shareholders over the past year, and Lenovo is in a strong position to make continually better progress against our goals. We appreciate Steve's contributions to Lenovo and his continuing support."

Shortly after completing the ThinkPad acquisition, Lenovo embarked on a new marketing and business campaign. During press events, Yang and key executives announced targets of growing the company at twice the industry rate and topping PC market share within five years. Dell currently commands the PC market, followed by Dell; Lenovo is fourth or fifth, depending on the analyst.

Lenovo has said it will have an aggressive channel strategy, but has yet to define how it will embrace the channel to grow U.S. and global sales. The company captured top honors in mobile computers in this year's VARBusiness Annual Report Card awards.