MORRISVILLE, N.C. – Is a change in leadership at Lenovo at hand?

Could be. Chinese media is reporting that Yang Yuanqing, who has been called China’s Bill Gates, is stepping down. And Lenovo’s CEO wasn’t cited as Yang’s successor. Lenovo is denying the rumors.

However, Chinese business media follows Lenovo – one of China’s high-tech international “stars” – extremely closely. Despite the closed nature of the country, business coverage is pretty intense, especially in Hong Kong where capitalism largely reins.

Yang, who by the way maintains a home in the Triangle, could be under pressure. In fact, if the Chinese media rumors are true, Chief Executive Officer William Amelio might be under the gun as well since he wasn’t listed as the person to take over the world’s No. 4 PC maker.

In one report, Yang’s job was cited as possibly going to Zhu Linan. He was cited as being Lenovo’s “investment president,” but his name and that position don’t appear on the English version of Lenovo’s Web site.

BusinessWeek has Zhu listed as an executive with Legend Capital, Lenovo’s parent investment firm that is owned in large part by the Chinese government.

Why might a shakeup take place?

There could be several reasons:

1. Lenovo’s shipments have increased only marginally over the past year and its market share is stagnant despite an aggressive – and no doubt very expensive – marketing campaign. Lenovo recently pulled back its commitment to Formula 1 racing and is long longer involved in the Olympics.

2. Lenovo failed in a bid to acquire Brazilian PC manufacturer Positivio earlier this month. That deal was considered as being a potential boost to Lenovo’s efforts to expand market share in emerging companies.

3. The failure to acquire Positivo came on the heels of failed efforts to buy Packard Bell in Europe. The acquisition of that company by Acer – Lenovo’s bitter rival and No. 3 PC maker that happens to be based in Taiwan – helped boost Acer past Lenovo into the No. 3 spot.

4. And fizzling products? Acer is surging in global market share as iSuppli reported Tuesday with the so-called “netbooks” – small, cheap laptops – leading the sales surge. Lenovo has launched a tremendous variety or products this year, from a thin rival to challenge a big Apple seller to huge, heavy laptops geared to photographers and artists. Yet as the iSuppli and IDC statistics show, Lenovo is not growing as fast as its top rivals.

Finally, there’s the downward pressure on Lenovo stock as the world’s economy slows and China’s once red-hot market cools. China is not a democracy but it has embraced capitalism, and if Lenovo doesn’t begin generating more sales – well, heads could be on the chopping block.

Just like in Silicon Valley, Wall Street and the Triangle.