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Exec leaves IBM to become Dell vice chairman

James Vanderslice, the IBM vice president behind the company's successful effort to become a dominant component supplier, will become a vice chairman at Dell Computer.

James Vanderslice, the IBM vice president behind the company's successful effort to become a dominant component supplier, has left IBM to become a vice chairman at Dell Computer.

The appointment of Vanderslice comes amid a board shuffle at Dell, the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker. The company also today announced that former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn and Mort Topfer, who is retiring as vice chairman, are joining the board as directors.

A 30-year veteran of IBM, Vanderslice has served for the past two years as the senior vice president of IBM's Technology Group, which develops computer components such as hard drives, LCD monitors and microelectronics. Vanderslice, in fact, was the point person for IBM in negotiating a $16 billion, seven-year component supply and technology deal with Dell in March.

Subsequently, IBM cut similar long-range deals with Acer and EMC.

As vice chairman, Vanderslice will be one of three executives essentially charged with running the company, according to a Dell spokesman. Officially, he will serve as vice chairman and be a member of the three-person Office of the Chief Executive Officer. Other members include Michael Dell, who is the CEO, and Kevin Rollins, a vice chairman.

The roles and responsibilities among the three executives remains fluid, the spokesman said. Generally, however, Dell oversees the company while the two vice chairmen run the day-to-day operations. Currently, Rollins manages sales and marketing, services, and Dell's American and Japanese divisions services. Vanderslice, therefore, will take over managing operations, Asia/Pacific and Europe.

Dell has been talking to Vanderslice for a few months, the spokesman said. Topfer has been planning to retire for some time. He came to Dell in 1994 after a lengthy career at Motorola.

"Jim's extensive leadership experience with IBM has spanned nearly every area of global technology development, marketing and operations," Michael Dell said in a prepared statement. "We are very fortunate to be able to benefit from his wide-ranging expertise as we embark on the next era of growth and development at Dell."

Although he is stepping down as vice chair, Topfer will be joining the company's board of directors along with Nunn. Nunn, who wielded considerable power as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, represented Georgia for 24 years. Currently he is a senior partner at the Atlanta law firm of King & Spalding.

The appointment of Topfer and Nunn expands the board to 12 members.