Lenovo’s Amelio resigns, Yang returns as CEO

Lenovo Group President and CEO William Amelio resigned Wednesday as the company reported a US$97 million quarterly loss.

Amelio, a former Dell executive who led a broad restructuring of Lenovo’s worldwide operations, is the second American CEO to step down since Lenovo completed its acquisition of IBM’s former PC division in 2004. Amelio’s predecessor, Stephen Ward, who became CEO immediately following the acquisition, resigned in late 2005.

Amelio will be replaced as CEO by Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo’s chairman. Liu Chuanzhi, Lenovo’s founder and former chairman, will replace Yang as chairman of the company.

Rory Read, Lenovo’s senior vice president of global operations, will take over as president and chief operating officer.

It was not immediately clear how Amelio’s departure will benefit Lenovo, or how bringing back the company’s former leadership will put the company back on track.

“They’re still going to have a lot of the same challenges they had before,” said Bryan Ma, director of personal systems research at IDC Asia-Pacific, saying Lenovo suffers from an “identity crisis” and faces daunting operational and product development challenges.

Lenovo said Amelio resigned because his three-year contract was over. He will remain as an advisor to the company through the end of September, the company said in a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange.

“Mr. Amelio confirmed that he has no disagreement with the Board and there are no matters in respect of his resignation that need to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the Company,” the filing said.

Still, Amelio’s departure comes at an awkward time. Moments before announcing his resignation, Lenovo reported a quarterly loss of US$97 million that it blamed on slowing Chinese demand for computers.

The sudden nature of Amelio’s departure caught many by surprise. “They said he had a three-year contract, but that just raises the question of why they didn’t renew it,” Ma said.

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