Gianfranco Lanci, the former president and CEO of Acer, has been officially appointed head of Lenovo's European operations, following his work in a consultancy role at the China-based IT company. Lanci was the acknowledged superstar of the PC business, but the massive growth in Acer's PC business was followed by a slump and his resignation as the European market was "overstocked".
Lenovo leads the enterprise PC market, having taken over IBM's PC division in December 2004. It is still expanding in the consumer business, which is growing healthily in the Asia Pacific region, while moving into new areas such as smartphones and tablets.
In a press statement, Lanci said: "The last year has seen turmoil and uncertainty in the PC market for a number of players, but our strategy has remained consistent throughout – to protect and grow our heritage THINK business, while attacking new markets such as the consumer space." Lenovo calls this its "Protect & Attack" strategy.
Lanci's aim is to "achieve 10 percent share in the top 10 countries in EMEA and realise our longer term objective of becoming a top three player in EMEA."
Lanci's appointment accompanies a company reorganisation. From today, Lenovo will market to four geographies: EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa -- an IBM invention), APLA (Asia Pacific/Latin America), China, and North America. Lenovo's EMEA includes 121 countries, 40 offices and 1,800 employees.
Lanci spent 17 years at Texas Instruments and was president of TI’s Productivity Products Division in EMEA when Acer bought TI’s notebook PC business in 1997. He ran Acer Italy and Acer EMEA before becoming president of Acer Inc in 2005, then CEO and president in 2008. He resigned a year ago following a disagreement with Acer's board of directors. Acer said that the board and Lanci "placed different levels of importance on scale, growth, customer value creation, brand position enhancement, and on resource allocation and methods of implementation."
Lanci's success at Acer was based on shipping large volumes of cheap laptops into the consumer market, and riding the wave of netbooks with the Acer Aspire range.
Later, Acer said it "discovered abnormalities in terms of channel inventory stored in freight forwarders' warehouses, and in the accounts receivables from channels in Spain," and took a $150 million write-off. Acer's PC shipments slumped as it cleared out inventory.
In February, Acer sued Lanci in Milan, where he lives, for violating the "non-compete covenant under the Separation Agreement". At the time, Lenovo declined to comment on "any pending litigation" but said its relationship with Lanci met "legal requirements".