Since taking the helm at Taiwan's top PC maker two years ago, J.T. Wang has trumped his opponents by building Acer Inc into the world's No.3 computer maker.

Acer announced on Monday it was paying $710 million for U.S. computer firm Gateway, known for its Holstein cow logo, in a deal that would overtake rival Lenovo and rank it behind only Dell Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co.

Acer chairman Wang, 53, and the firm's president Gianfranco Lanci have taken the company into overdrive on a quest to shift from a mid-tier regional name to a global powerhouse.

JT is aggressive and is good at motivating his employees, said Calvin Huang, an analyst at BNP Paribas. As he comes from a sales background, he's also good at promoting the company.

With the Gateway acquisition, Acer is taking on the world's two computer heavyweights, Dell and HP, in their own backyard.

We used to stay low-key and just put our heads down to work hard, but now we realize that to compete globally we need to make ourselves shine and grow bigger, Wang told reporters.

Wang, a 25-year Acer veteran who has an electrical engineering degree from Taiwan's top university, has stuck aggressively to the channel business model, selling PCs through large retail stores such as Best Buy and Circuit City, analysts say.

Established in 1976, Acer was a popular stock among Taiwan's tech brands before hitting a rough patch earlier this decade after it expanded too quickly at the expense of gaining market share.

Wang and Lanci have pushed Acer back on to the world stage, winning market recognition after becoming Europe's most popular notebook computer brand.

Wang's salesmanship meshes well with Lanci's more behind-the-scenes attributes in building Acer's operations in Europe, where about half the company's profits are now earned.

Wang is on the strategy side of things, while Lanci is the operations guy, said Merrill Lynch analyst Tong Tseng.

Lanci, an Italian also in his early 50s, began his career with an engineering degree, and worked for chip giant Texas Instruments before joining Acer 10 years ago.

Lanci is the main driver for the notebook and PC side, and most of the company's success was because of him in the last 3-4 years, said JP Morgan analyst Gokul Hariharan.

Acer, valued at around US$4.5 billion, is regarded by many as the sole Taiwan brand to have global success. Taiwan is better known for churning out electronics goods and parts under contract to big global players.