RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The Taipei Times provides an interesting overview of Taiwan-based Acer’s strategy to vault past Lenovo into third place behind HP and Dell in worldwide PC sales.

“Acer finally thinks outside the box,” the editorial headline reads.

“Acer Inc has finally done something important to elevate its global status…” the editorial begins.

The “important” step is Acer’s announced intention to buy U.S. computer manufacturer Gateway for $710 million. The deal also gives Acer the right of first refusal to acquire Belgium-based Packard Bell, which Lenovo is also trying to buy. Gateway had that first refusal option.

While the Gateway move would give Acer a much larger presence in the U.S. and Europe if all the deals are done, the Taipei Times wonders whether Acer management can make the deals work by spending a lot of cash and absorbing $300 million in debt from Gateway.

The paper noted that investors drove down that stock price by the daily maximum over two days. The 57 percent stock premium ($1.9 a share) is too much in the opinion of many people, the paper added.

However, Acer had little choice if it expected to grow internationally, according to the editorial.

“It is clear that Acer must pursue acquisitions if it wants to succeed,” the Times said. “This is inevitable because the company cannot rely solely on organic growth to pursue new markets and growth drivers in an industry where the competition grows ever fiercer.

“But it’s not yet clear whether acquiring Gateway will be an effective defense against Lenovo buying out Packard Bell and expanding its European presence. How will Acer respond if Lenovo pursues Packard Bell and offers a much higher bid? “

Indeed.

Lenovo has been very quiet about its talks with Packard Bell. Lenovo, which has its headquarters in Morrisville, N.C., wants Packard Bell so it can establish a presence in Europe. That desire could trigger a bidding war with Acer through the Gateway option.

Acer’s hometown paper points out that the acquisition strategy will present Acer management with many challenges.

“But regardless of its strong manufacturing skills and cost control ambitions, Acer should not underestimate the risks this acquisition entails,” the newspaper said. “One challenge will be how Acer will manage multiple brands (Acer, Gateway, Packard Bell and eMachine). How well will Acer execute a product positioning strategy that is suitable for various market segments? Integrating supply chains and streamlining distribution channels will also prove challenging.”

The Acer-Lenovo battle will be an interesting one to watch as will the saga of how both companies function once the acquisitions are out of the way.