Acer CEO Lanci out over disagreements on future strategy

Taiwanese electronics maker Acer faces another struggle: finding a new CEO. Gianfranco Lanci abruptly resigned on Thursday over disagreements on the future of the company. The announcement comes just a week after Acer was forced to lower sales and revenue projections.

Lanci had been with Acer since 1997 following its acquisition of Texas Instruments' notebook division, which he worked for. He was named president of the company in 2005 and CEO in 2008, and oversaw Acer's purchases of Packard Bell and Gateway.

Chairman J.T. Wang will assume the role of CEO on an interim basis until a replacement is named. Wang had previously served as Acer's top executive from 2005 until 2008, when Lanci rose to the top spot.

Acer is currently the world's third largest PC maker, and most known for its low-cost notebooks. However, new industries such as tablets have caught the company off guard, and it has been scrambling to catch up. These struggles have also rattled investors: following last week's forecast adjustment, almost $1 billion in value was erased from the company in four days.

Perhaps the tablet's cannibalization of the netbook and notebook sectors could have the biggest impact on Acer. Reuters sources indicate that disagreements existed between Wang and Lanci over the company's position in the tablet sector.

This was later backed up by comments to Bloomberg by chief financial officer Tu Che-min Friday, who said Lanci chose to focus on outselling HP in computers vis a vis Apple and HTC, who produce smartphones and tablets. In fact, Tu says the new Acer CEO will have experience in both markets.

In a statement, Acer claimed that it had "several months of dialog" over Lanci's concerns, but he held views that were not shared by a majority of board members. Differences existed in "scale, growth, customer value creation, brand position enhancement, and on resource allocation and methods of implementation," it said.

At a news conference announcing the departure, Wang did admit that the industry had changed, and that Acer needed to make some changes. Regardless, the PC will remain the core of Acer's business. While the company plans to move into the mobile device sector, it will "invest cautiously," Wang said.

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