Interview: Lenovo chief Yang Yuanqing


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This time last year Yang Yuanqing had good cause to celebrate. The 49-year-old executive had just seen his company Lenovo overhaul US giant Hewlett-Packard to become the world’s largest PC maker for the first time in its history.

The Beijing-based firm’s rise was all the more remarkable given that less than a decade earlier, most consumers outside of its native China had barely heard of Lenovo, let alone owned one of its computers.

Yang had taken the big bang approach to the PC industry; that is rather than grow the business organically, the company instead snapped up IBM’s computer division for $1.75bn in 2005.

Industry pundits widely derided the deal, perhaps not surprising given that the IBM business was bleeding red ink at the time.

In the years since, however, through a combination of savvy marketing and rigorous supply chain management, Lenovo has gobbled up an 18.6 percent share of the market, according to research firm IDC, shipping more than 15.3 million units per quarter.

With these same figures appearing to show that the traditional PC sector is in terminal decline, as consumers increasingly adopt more sophisticated mobile devices, Yang has now set his sights on conquering the huge global smartphone market.

Through this year’s acquisition of US handset maker Motorola from Google for $2.9bn, Lenovo is again hoping to buy its way to world domination by turning around an established, yet flagging, brand.

Not everyone is convinced though that he will be able to repeat the trick though. Of most concern was the possibility of loss-making Motorola eating into Lenovo’s profits, which increased 29 percent in its most recent quarter, in the short term.

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