Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

MORRISVILLE, N.C. – In the tradition of the Godfather’s guidance to keep enemies closer than friends, Lenovo’s move to hire the former chief executive officer of major rival Acer is seen as a coup by analysts at Morgan Stanley.

The rivalry between Lenovo (based largely in China) and Acer (located in Taiwan) can’t be overstated, especially in Asia where the two PC manufacturers wage economic battle daily. But both companies fight across the international consumer and business fronts as well.

So after absorbing the news over the weekend that Lenovo had hired ex-Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci as a consultant, Morgan Stanley gave kudos to the Morrisville-based enterprise.

“We think the arrival of ex-Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci as a global consultant is positive for Lenovo. Mr. Lanci’s strength is in consumer channels in Europe, where Lenovo is weak,” said Morgan Stanley analysts in a research note published Monday as reported by the Central News Agency in Taiwan.

“We view this as a negative for Acer; it may weigh further on its business in Europe,” they added.

Lanci will shepherd Lenovo’s absorption of Germany-based Medion AG, its most recent acquisition that cost $900 million. That move is part of the world’s No. 3 PC maker to increase both consumer and business sales across Europe.

Which brings us back to the Acer rivalry.

Acer beat out Lenovo in bidding for an earlier PC acquisition in Europe and also bought U.S.-based Gateway.

But under Lanci, Acer faltered over the past two years while Lenovo reorganized, launched a series of new products and surged past Acer into the No. 3 global sales spot. Now Lenovo has eyes on No. 2 Dell.

The hiring of Lanci also boosts Lenovo’s management, which took a hit when President Rory Read quit last month to run chip firm AMD.

HP’s decision to downgrade its PC division is another boost for Lenovo, which dominates its rivals in China.

All the news led Morgan Stanley to rate Lenovo’s stock as “Overweight.” It also boosted a target price for Lenovo shares, but they are still a bargain at under $1 U.S.

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