Mary Ma Xuezheng, a Lenovo executive who was instrumental in the US$1.75 billion acquisition of IBM’s personal computer division in 2004, died on Saturday. She was 66. The cause of her death was not known, but the Chinese publication Caixin reported that the founding partner of Chinese private equity firm Boyu Capital was suffering from pancreatic cancer. Ma, an executive director of Hong Kong-listed Lenovo Group, was in March appointed to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing’s board as an independent non-executive director for a two-year term. “The board expresses its deepest condolences to Ms Ma’s family. A further announcement will be made by the government to fill the vacancy,” the HKEX said in a statement on Monday . Mary Ma ends 17-year career with Lenovo A statement issued by Lenovo to the Hong Kong stock exchange said “the board would also like to express its deepest sorrow for the departure of Ms Ma and extend its deepest sympathies to her family”. Separately, Lenovo’s chief executive and chairman Yang Yuanqing lauded Ma for her “tremendous contribution” to the company,particularly the acquisition of IBM’s personal computer division and its subsequent integration. “The board would like to express its sincere gratitude to Ms Ma for her dedication and past services to Lenovo,” Yang’s statement said. The IBM deal has since led to the rise of Lenovo as the world’s biggest PC brand, accounting for a quarter of the world’s market share as of the second quarter. The move also underscored Chinese companies’ global ambitions, with many other companies going on to make much bigger acquisitions. Ma was well respected in financial circles in China and Hong Kong, and known among financial reporters as forthcoming and approachable. She first joined Lenonvo in 1990 and rose through the ranks, taking on roles such as executive director, senior vice-president and chief financial officer. She retired in 2007 and was named non-executive director. TPG tempts former Lenovo executive out of retirement Ma was also involved in building Lenovo’s global brand image. She helped make Lenovo the first Chinese company to sponsor a global sporting event – the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Ma also served as a non-executive director at British-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever.