Huawei CEO says company not talking to U.S. firms on 5G licencing

CEO Ren Zhengfei says that the company will survive even though it doesn't expect to be removed from the U.S. Entity List

Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei said the company isn’t engaged with any U.S. companies on licensing 5G network technology.

“There are currently no U.S. companies talking to us directly, because middlemen who have come to talk do not necessarily represent the big U.S. companies, as this is a big and difficult introduction,” Ren said during a conversation that was broadcasted by the company online.

“It is only when someone is willing to come and discuss this issue with us will we find an investment bank to help us find an intermediary to discuss the deal, contract and cooperation, but not yet.”

According to a report from October, Huawei senior vice-president and board director Vincent Peng had said that some companies expressed interest in either a long-term deal or a one-off transfer.

In another Wall Street Journal article, Ren said that the company was doing well despite the U.S. ban.

“We can survive very well without the U.S.,” Ren said. “The China-U.S. trade talks are not something I’m concerned with.”

He also added that the company would gladly welcome talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“We would certainly give him a warm welcome,” Ren said.

In May, Trump banned U.S.-based companies from working with the China-based tech giant. In June, the ban was slightly lifted with the U.S. Department of Commerce indicating that some companies will be granted a conditional licence to work with Huawei. The department has indicated that it will soon reveal which companies have been approved to work with Huawei, but that it will be very strict.

The U.S. has accused Huawei of using backdoors in its equipment to spy on citizens and feed the information to the Chinese government. It has also charged the company, Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou and subsidiary Skycom for 13 counts of bank and wire fraud charges.

These accusations have to still be proven in court and Huawei denies them. Meng is currently waiting for her extradition trial to take place next year in Vancouver.

Ren noted in the WSJ article that it doesn’t expect the U.S. to fully remove Huawei from the Entity List.

“They may as well keep us there forever because we’ll be fine without them,” he said.

In fact, Ren said that the company expects to sell 240-250 million smartphones this year.

In its Q3 2019 results, Huawei reported a 27 percent revenue jump as a result of an increase in smartphone shipments. That increase was before the company was placed on a ban list.

So far this year, the company said it shipped 185 million smartphones and while revenues were not broken down, Huawei said for the first three quarters of the year it grew 24.4 percent to 610.8 billion yuan (about $113.7 billion CAD).

Source: Thomson Reuters, Wall Street Journal