Yang Yuanqing has come a long way since he first joined Legend Holdings (LGHLY ) 12 years ago as a salesperson. Now 36 and CEO of China's leading computer maker, Yang announced in Beijing on June 11 that he had signed a $200 million joint venture with AOL Time Warner Inc. (AOL ) That deal could turn Legend, which already controls 30% of China's 9-million-unit PC market, into a major player in the country's fledgling Internet business.
Yang has played a pivotal role in Legend's rise from an anonymous distributor for multinationals to Asia's biggest computer maker outside Japan. Profits are expected to jump 83%, to $110 million, on sales of $3.6 billion for the year ended Mar. 31, 2001. To preserve Legend's leadership, Yang plans to move into higher-margin areas such as Net appliances and handheld computers. A key goal, he says, is to "help improve the reputation of Chinese products" throughout the world. Translation: Legend has its sights set on becoming a global competitor.