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Another executive quits AST

AST's CFO is the latest officer to leave the company in the past two weeks.

The chief financial officer of AST Research (ASTA) has resigned after four months with the company, the second executive in the past two weeks to leave the embattled computer maker.

Joseph Norberg will be temporarily replaced by Won Suk Yang, a director of PC manufacturing for Seoul-based Samsung Electronics, a major AST investor.

Norberg's departure comes on the heels of the resignation of Ian Diery, who was chief executive and president. Diery was replaced by Young-Soo Kim, a former Samsung vice president who was instrumental in the Korean company's investment in AST.

The company, in both Diery's and Norberg's case, said the former executives left to pursue other interests. In an earlier interview with CNET, Kim said there were no additional management changes expected or planned.

Kim has also said that Samsung had no plans to increase its stake in AST and transform the company into a subsidiary of Samsung.

Norberg could not be reached for comment. But a company spokesman stressed it was Norberg's decision to leave the company. "The intent when Young-Soo came here was to keep the existing management team in place and enhance the position of AST," said Emory Epperson, spokesman. "That has remained unchanged."

Samsung began to take more of an active role in the company following a $60 million investment in AST earlier this year. The deal was negotiated to allow AST to repay a portion of a promissory note to Tandy for the purchase of its PC manufacturing operations. The arrangement gave Samsung control of 49.9 percent of the PC manufacturer.

"AST will soon be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung," predicted Bill Schaub, a research director with Dataquest. "Norberg's departure is no surprise to me. I wouldn't be surprised if the next person to go is the marketing director."