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AMD Finally Fills CEO Void With Lenovo's Read

Rory Read, who helped transform Lenovo into a channel-centric PC leader, will take over AMD's top post as the chip maker looks to gain ground on chief rival Intel.

The chip maker Thursday named Lenovo President and COO Rory Read as its new chief executive, taking over for interim CEO and Chief Financial Officer Thomas Seifert effective immediately. Read was also appointed to AMD's board of directors.

“I’m very pleased to be joining AMD at this important time in its history. AMD is a true innovator and is uniquely positioned to lead the industry forward, delivering the next big thing both within the PC ecosystem and beyond,” said Read in a statement. “AMD has strong momentum and the opportunity to continue profitably gaining share based on its highly differentiated products, solid financial foundation, and passionate and committed employees. I’m excited to be joining AMD’s employees as we write the next chapter not just for the company, but for the industry and consumers around the world.”

AMD had been looking for CEO for several months following the surprising resignation of Dirk Meyer in January. Meyer unexpectedly left AMD shortly after the company introduced its highly anticipated Fusion processor architecture at CES 2011 in Las Vegas. Meyer reportedly clashed with AMD's board, which was concerned about the direction of the company, particularly AMD's lack of presence in the growing tablet market.

Seifert was named interim CEO, leading the company during a crucial period that saw the launch of several new Fusion APU (accelerated processing units) lines as AMD transitioned to integrated chips that combined both its CPU and GPU technologies. AMD reportedly courted several high-profile technology executives AMD reportedly courted several high-profile technology executives in recent months, including Oracle President and former HP CEO Mark Hurd and EMC's Chief Operating Officer Pat Gelsinger, who is considered to be the likely successor to current EMC chief executive Joe Tucci.

As the CEO search dragged on, many AMD partners voiced concerns over the chip maker's leadership void during a pivotal time for AMD's future. And during AMD's second quarter earnings call in July, Seifert expressed frustration with repeated questions about the open CEO position and the implications it had on the chip maker's ability to execute its strategy. "I'm not just here warming a chair," Seifert said during AMD's most recent earnings call.

Read joins AMD after more than five years with Lenovo, most recently as president and COO of the computer maker where he oversaw day-to-day global operations as well as the development and execution of the company's growth strategy. A 23-year IBM veteran, Read joined Lenovo after IBM sold its PC business to the Chinese computer maker in late 2004.

Read is credited with helping Lenovo transform into a worldwide PC leader, and he's built a reputation as a strong channel advocate. Since Read was appointed as Lenovo's COO in 2009, the company posted seven consecutive quarters as the fast-growing PC maker in the world, gaining market share and brand awareness while also building a strong partner base.

“Rory is a proven leader with an impressive record of driving profitable growth,” said Bruce Claflin, Chairman of AMD's Board of Directors, in a statement. “He is ideally suited to accelerate AMD’s evolution into the world’s leading semiconductor design company. As President and COO of Lenovo he helped take the company into dynamic new markets while growing market share and expanding profitability. His sound strategic thinking and natural customer orientation will help amplify the voice of the customer inside AMD.”

Lenovo said it has no immediate plans to name a new president/COO. Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing will assume Read's duties, according to the company.

“Rory Read has made a significant contribution to our success during his time as president and COO at Lenovo. His selection as CEO of AMD is a great reflection of the way the industry views Lenovo’s talent and our performance," Yuanqing said in a statement.

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