Lenovo Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Yang Yuanqing and several other executives with North Carolina connections are included on Barron’s new elite “World’s Best CEOs” list.

Yang is among the first-time selections, cited for ”Devouring market share in PCs.”

Barron’s praises Yang as a “Dragon,” playing off the devouring line. 

“Born in 1964, the Year of the Dragon in Chinese astrology, Yang has Dragon attributes that serve Lenovo well. Dragons are great computer analysts, inventors, PR people, and politicians. Last year, this master politician made a popular — and populist — move, giving $3 million of his $5.2 million bonus to employees.”

Yang’s generosity aside, the “30” are there for one primary reason, says Barron’s:

Driving returns for shareholders.

“Shareholder return is the mark of a great CEO,” the headline reads. “Shares of the companies run by this year’s top managers have all beat the market during their tenure. From LVMH’s Arnault to Lenovo’s Yang.”

Citing falling value, Barron’s cut EMC’s CEO from the elite ranks. EMC has a big and growing presence across the Triangle from manufacturing to R&D facilities.

“Joe Tucci of EMC is out because revenue growth is slowing at the maker of data-storage systems,” Barron’s wrote.

Yang may be last on the list, but that’s most likely just due to the alphabet. After all, Yang has turned Lenovo from a PC also-ran when it acquired IBM’s PC business in 2005 into the No. 2 PC maker worldwide – just behind HP. And Lenovo is at the same time broadening its product footprint to include everything from smartphones to tablets to servers and supercomputers.

But at the same time Yang has worked to increase profitability in a business known for cut-throat margins.

“We look for innovative and financially savvy leaders who can motivate employees and develop products that resonate with customers,” Barron’s says. “But if they can’t translate that into consistent profit growth and market-beating shareholder gains, they ultimately aren’t adding a lot of value.”

Also on the list with N.C. connections:

  • Ma Huateng of China-based Tencent. Like Yang, Ma has made a big investment with North Carolina connections. China’s supreme Internet provider owns 40 percent of Cary-based Epic Games. Just last week, Tencent disclosed in a filing that it paid some $400 million for that ownership stake.
  • Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who is expanding Oracle’s presence in North Carolina with Monday’s announced buy of Tekelec.
  • Lars Sorenson of Novo Nordisk, which operates a huge insulin plant in Johnston County.
  • And Hugh Grant of Monsanto, which is a growing part of the state’s expanding agro-business sector. He returned to the list after dropping off last year.

Yang and Ma were acknowledged for their big shareholder return results.

“Ma Huateng of Tencent, one of China’s top Internet companies; and Yang Yuanqing of Lenovo, the fast-growing maker of personal computers that is giving fits to Dell and Hewlett-Packard” were cited for 25 percent-plus returns.

The list includes many instantly recognizable names as well ranging from Warren Buffett to Jeff Bezos and Larry Page.

The entire list can be read online.