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What is Mary Ma Talking About?

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on April 20, 2007

In an interview with McKinsey (which I found thanks to David Wolf’s Silicon Hutong blog), the chief financial officer for Lenovo says that “Chinese companies are better prepared to invest abroad than many people believe” and adds that the competition that Chinese companies face at home makes it easier for them to go global. Wolf has his doubts: “I think that oversimplifies things a bit. As Lenovo discovered before it bought IBM, all the competition at home was not translating into great success overseas. It’s [sic] tentative moves to go to battle even in small markets like Italy and Germany as well as some Asian territories left it with little to show. Apparently, there is more to success overseas than being a strong competitor at home.”

The real whopper, though, comes in Ma’s assertion that Lenovo has been able to go global thanks to its deep pool of talented executives: “The depth of Lenovo’s management meant that we could sustain our success in China and still have managers available to go anywhere we needed them, as long as there wasn’t a language barrier.” Hmm. The president and CEO of Lenovo is Bill Amelio, whom the company hired away from Dell in late 2005. In the months after Amelio’s arrival, lots of other Dell execs joined him at Lenovo. (For more on this, see this BW story from last year.) Why recruit so many outsiders if Lenovo’s management team was so strong?

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