Acer CEO Lanci Quits After Clashing With Board on Strategy

Acer Inc. (2353), the world’s second- largest maker of personal computers, said Chief Executive Officer Gianfranco Lanci quit after clashing with board members over the company’s future strategy.

Lanci, temporarily replaced by Chairman J.T. Wang effective immediately, disagreed with the majority of Acer’s board on company’s "future development," the Taipei-based company said in a statement today. The CEO held different views on strategic topics including the importance of scale, growth, branding, resource allocation and implementation, it said.

The resignation comes less than a week after the company lowered its sales forecast, which led to a four-day, 18 percent rout of the stock. Analysts at 10 brokerages including Daiwa Securities Group Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) have lowered their investment ratings on Acer since March 25, citing concerns about the company’s earnings.

“The company has been lagging behind in new products such as tablets, and other wireless devices such as smartphones,” said Vincent Chen, who rates Acer “sell” at Yuanta Securities Co. in Taipei. “Under Lanci, the company has also lost market share in the small-to-medium business market for PCs, as he had been more focused on the consumer side.”

Stock Rout

Acer fell 1.2 percent to close at NT$60 in Taipei today before the announcement. The stock is headed for its biggest weekly decline since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks almost a decade ago roiled financial markets.

First-quarter revenue from PCs may fall about 10 percent from the previous three months because of “relatively weaker” demand in Western Europe and the U.S., Acer said on March 25. Second-quarter sales are expected to be little changed from the current quarter even as demand for tablet device increases, the company said.

Acer overtook Dell Inc. (DELL) as the world’s second-largest maker of personal computers in 2009 under Lanci, who had been president of the company since 2005, overseeing acquisitions of rivals including Gateway and Packard Bell.

The 56-year-old executive earned a civil engineering degree from the Politecnico of Turin, where he was born. He joined Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN)’s Italian unit in 1981 and became country manager for the Portable Computers and Printers Division in Italy, the Middle East and Africa by age 37, according to Acer’s website. In 1997, he was named managing director of Acer Italy after Texas Instruments’ portable PC business merged with Acer.

Lanci, who enjoys reading and playing tennis, was promoted to president of the International Operations Business Group in 2003 after heading Acer’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to Acer.

Wang, born two months before Lanci, became chairman in 2008 after Lanci succeeded him as CEO. Wang has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from National Taiwan University and an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from Taiwan’s National Cheng-Chi University.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Lee in Hong Kong at wlee37@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net

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