Fri, Apr 01, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Acer bombshell as company announces CEO Lanci has quit

By Jason Tanand Lisa Wang  /  Staff Reporters

With its shares tanking after it lowered its first-quarter guidance, Acer Inc (宏碁), one of the world’s top three PC brands, announced yesterday that Gianfranco Lanci had resigned as president and CEO, with immediate effect.

The resignation was approved at a board of directors’ meeting yesterday, Acer said in a statement.

“Lanci held different views from a majority of the board” about the company’s future development, despite several months of dialogue, it read.

Lanci and the board “placed different levels of importance on scale, growth, customer value creation and brand position enhancement,” as the company faces increasing competition from mobile device makers, it said.

There was disagreement on resource allocation and strategy implementation, the statement read.

Acer chairman Wang Jeng-tang (王振堂), who doubles as head of the Taipei Computer Association (台北市電腦公會), has taken over as chief executive while the firm begins organizational planning and operational adjustments to ensure its business sustainability, the statement said.

“PC remains the core of our business. We have built up a strong foundation and will continue to expand, especially in the commercial PC segment,” Wang said in the statement.

Wang added that the company was stepping into the new mobile device market, especially the field of tablet PCs, where it would invest cautiously in a bid to become a leading player.

“In this new ICT [information communication technology] industry, Acer needs a period of time for adjustment. With a spirit of entrepreneurship, we will face new challenges and look to the future with confidence,” he said.

The firm also promoted Walter Deppeler, deputy president of Acer Europe, Middle East, Africa, to president of the division.

Acer last week trimmed its first-quarter revenue forecast, blaming weak demand in Europe and the US.

The company said sales would fall 10 percent in the first three months of this year from NT$149.7 billion (US$5.08 billion) in the fourth quarter of last year, rather than its prior forecast of 3 percent sequential growth.

The revised guidance sent Acer’s stock tumbling for five consecutive trading days, a total of 17.6 percent. The shares closed at NT$60 yesterday.

“The management reshuffle is likely to dampen the company’s already weak business outlook over the next few quarters,” said an analyst, who requested not to be named.

The rise of tablet devices, the iPad in particular, posed a threat to Acer’s business as tablets were eating into the netbook computer market, and “Acer was slow to react [to this trend],” the analyst said.

Taipei-bases researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) yesterday cut its global notebook computer shipment forecast to 208 million units from 222.7 million units estimated in November because of shrinking demand in Japan following the devastating earthquake and erosion of tablet devices.

In an impromptu meeting with analysts following Lanci’s resignation, Acer said it was shifting its focus to becoming a leader in mobile devices.

Yuanta Securities (元大證券) head Vincent Chen (陳豊丰) said that implied the company would focus on tablets and smartphones. Its original goal was to become the world’s No. 1 PC vendor.

“This is the right direction as the technologies are converging,” Chen said in a research note yesterday.

“The key issue now is who will be Lanci’s successor to lead the company in this new goal,” Chen said. “We believe it is too early to conclude a significant change in Acer’s long-term outlook.”

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