Lenovo targets acquisitions in emerging markets

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2008, 12:00am

Lenovo Group will focus its overseas investment on emerging markets and continue to pursue acquisitions despite its failed attempt to buy Europe's Packard Bell last year, according to its chairman.

Lenovo, which took over the personal computer division of industry giant IBM in 2005, has set its sights on India, Brazil, Mexico, the Middle East and eastern Europe for investments, Yang Yuanqing said.

Mr Yang spoke to reporters at the sidelines of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference yesterday without giving the nature of such potential investment.

'Market penetration levels in those regions are relatively low,' he said. 'More importantly, Lenovo can use its robust industry experience to develop these emerging markets.'

Acquisitions abroad could help widen Lenovo's manufacturing base.

'Many people believed we would move all our manufacturing to China [after the IBM acquisition], but no, we didn't because we need to serve our customers faster and better,' Mr Yang said.

He said its facilities on the mainland were suitable for making notebook computers because the light-weight products could be delivered by planes. In contrast, moving desktops by ships was too slow.

'So we'll serve Europe from Europe and the US from the US,' he said. 'Besides faster delivery, we can save on costs as well.'

Mr Yang said Lenovo would not seek overseas acquisition opportunities that could enhance shareholder value, adding that the track record of its integration with the IBM business would help future buyouts.

Lenovo last month unveiled the purchase of Mexico's Sanmina-SCI, which makes computers and parts for IBM's sales in the US and Europe.

'Lenovo hopes to retain some of its own manufacturing capacity in Mexico and Europe,' Mr Yang said.

Although IBM has been selling down its stake in Lenovo, Mr Yang said the company had no plans to invite investment from a new strategic partner and would 'actively co-ordinate' with IBM on its disposal plan.

IBM sold 116.19 million Lenovo shares on February 29 at HK$5.41 each for a total of HK$628.58 million, cutting its stake to 7.46 per cent from 8.76 per cent.

Meanwhile, Lenovo bought back 5.65 million of its own shares at HK$4.68 to HK$4.90 each on Friday.

Mr Yang said the move showed its confidence in its own growth and was aimed at enhancing shareholder value, without saying whether it will continue to buy back its shares.

Lenovo's share price surged 3.82 per cent to HK$4.89 yesterday. The Hang Seng Index rose 1.28 per cent.