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IBM Said to Transfer Hardware Chief Adkins to Corporate Strategy

International Business Machines Corp. reassigned the head of its hardware division to a new role, a person familiar with the matter said, making a change after a 17 percent drop in the division’s sales last quarter.

Rod Adkins will be senior vice president of corporate strategy, said the person, who asked not to be named because the information is private. Tom Rosamilia, who has been overseeing corporate strategy, will take charge of the hardware business, reporting to Steve Mills, senior vice president of software, the person said.

IBM, the biggest computer-services company, is making the personnel shift as it seeks to further reduce its dependence on hardware. The division reported sales of $3.11 billion in the first quarter, down from $3.75 billion a year earlier, as the company struggled to distinguish its products, such as servers, in a market that increasingly views them as commodity products.

“I don’t know if his numbers could have been better given the conditions right now,” Laurence Balter, an analyst at Oracle Investment Research in Fox Island, Washington, said of Adkins. “They’re not necessarily putting him in a corner.”

James Sciales, an spokesman for Armonk, New York-based IBM, declined to comment on the executive changes. The Wall Street Journal reported the moves earlier yesterday.

Adkins had been a senior vice president, and remains one in his new position, which previously didn’t carry that rank, the person familiar with the change said.

IBM is in talks to sell its low-end server business, with Lenovo Group Ltd. as the most likely bidder, a person familiar with the matter said last week.

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