Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi to retire from parent firm: insiders

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/17 11:58:40

Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi ‘to retire from parent firm’

A Lenovo booth at a telecommunication expo in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province Photo: VCG

Liu Chuanzhi, the 75-year-old founder of Chinese electronics company Lenovo, the world's top PC vendor, is expected to step down as chairman of Legend Holdings on Wednesday, sources close to the company told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Legend Holdings, the parent company of Lenovo Group, will likely make an official announcement this week, insiders said.

Liu and several fellow scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a leading think-tank, founded Lenovo in 1984. After its acquisition of IBM's PC business in 2004, which was described by many as "a snake swallowing an elephant" since the target company was much larger than Lenovo's own PC business, the company gradually grew into the world's largest PC maker.

Liu also successfully led the shareholding reform of Lenovo in 2001, which turned the company from state-owned to private, a pioneer effort that had a major impact on the industry and China.

In 2011, Liu stepped down from Lenovo Group and focused on the activities of Legend Holdings, which controls Lenovo Group, as well as investment companies Junlian Capital, Hony Capital and Lenovo Star. Legend Holdings is also exploring new areas such as financial services, agriculture and food.

The news sparked heated discussion among Chinese netizens and jumped to a trending topic on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media platform, on Tuesday morning. "As an entrepreneur who grew in the era of China's reform and opening-up, Liu's retirement marks the end of an era and signals the start of a new one for the country's information technology (IT) industry," netizen Zhongzhengyi said.

Many also thanked Liu and his company for providing them with their very first computers in 1990s. 

"We should appreciate those who promoted the development of that era and laid the foundation for China's IT industry, and Liu Chuanzhi is one of them," Xiang Ligang, a veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Ning Min, 50, joined Legend Holdings in 1991, and now is the senior vice president and CFO of the company. He is expected to take Liu's position, according to a report from domestic news site thepaper.cn.

Liu's retirement also comes at a critical time when prospects of Chinese technology giants face uncertainties because of the US' crackdown on Huawei. Liu is the same age as Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei.

Moreover, despite being considered as a pioneer in the country's IT industry, the company was caught up in controversies in recent years. 

In May, Lenovo was alleged to have suspended supplies to Huawei due to US pressure after the US Commerce Department issued export controls targeting the Shenzhen-based tech giant. The company denied the rumors, saying that Huawei remains its important customer.

Lenovo was also alleged to be recalling faulty products in global markets but not in China, saying that Chinese consumers should support domestic products. The company later denied the allegation, saying that it had never discriminated against Chinese consumers. It refuted online claims that it had exploited patriotic sentiment in a series of product recalls.
Newspaper headline: Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi ‘to retire from parent firm’


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