Lenovo founder steps down as president

Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi resigns as the president of its parent company, Legend Holdings.

Liu Chuanzhi, founder of Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo, has stepped down as the president of its parent company, Legend Holdings.

The company announced the news midday Monday.

Liu will remain chairman of the company. He will be succeeded in his old role by Zhu Linan, a member of the company's executive committee and a former executive vice president.

It's the latest step for the 68-year-old Liu, who stepped down as Lenovo's chairman late last year to focus on his role at Legend. At the time, he was reported to shift his focus to accelerating Legend's growth, building its core operating assets and drive it toward an initial public offering between 2014 and 2016. Aside from Lenovo, Legend's major subsidiaries include Legend Capital, Raycom (real estate) and Hony Capital, and the company's holdings span the IT, real estate, consumer services, chemical and agriculture industries.

Lenovo is China's largest PC maker and the world's second-largest. The company has met its outsized ambition with growth that allowed it to challenge Hewlett-Packard, once its inspiration.

The Economist detailed his work in 2001:

Legend was triumphing over its competitors. It had lower costs than the foreigners, but its biggest advantage lay in its distribution network. Mr Liu used his ties to China’s state-owned enterprises to sell them computers, and dispatched armies of retail staff throughout China to teach first-timers how to click a mouse. He could not match the Americans in R&D spending, but he made up for this in local touch. Legend, for instance, pioneered a new keyboard that made it easier to write Chinese characters. In 1997, Legend became China’s top-selling brand.

As China's electronics manufacturing fortunes have grown, so have Lenovo's. But the company -- like HP -- is still working to transition from a hardware provider to a services provider.

As for Zhu, the man started in IT with Lenovo proper before establishing Legend Capital, taking Western approaches and adapting them to Legend's primary market. He's got the right experience; the question is why now.

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