Business

Huawei founder says company is not yet talking directly with U.S. firms to license 5G

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is not yet directly engaged with any American company over the firm's proposal to ease concerns about the security of its platform by licensing its 5G network technology, its founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said on Wednesday.

China urges Canada to release detained Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou

Huawei, a Chinese telecom giant, is facing struggles as it tries to gain ground in the international 5G market. (Stefan Wermuth/AFP/Getty Images)

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is not yet directly engaged with any U.S. company over the firm's proposal to ease concerns about the security of its platform by licensing its 5G network technology, its founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said on Wednesday.

A Huawei executive told Reuters in October the company was in early stage talks with some U.S. telecoms companies about licensing its technology, but warned that conversations were at an early stage and would likely take a long time to conclude.

The idea of a one-off fee in exchange for access to Huawei's 5G patents, licences, code and know-how was first floated by Ren in interviews with the New York Times and the Economist in September. But it was not clear whether there was any interest from U.S. companies.

"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 in a conversation broadcast by the company.

"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."

The U.S. government, fearing Huawei's equipment could be used by China for spying, placed the world's largest telecoms equipment provider on a blacklist banning it from buying American-made parts and has led a campaign to convince allies to bar it from their 5G networks. It has also brought criminal charges against the company, alleging bank fraud, violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran, and theft of trade secrets, all of which Huawei denies.

Ren said on Wednesday the company was coping well with the U.S. blacklisting and Huawei was continuing to innovate without U.S. support, even though he hoped the ban would not be a long-term issue.

He said the company expects to sell 240-250 million smartphones this year.

Huawei said last month it had sold more than 200 million phones in the year to Oct. 23, hitting that milestone more than two months earlier than it did in 2018.

The daughter of the telecom giant's CEO, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Vancouver in December at the request of the U.S. 

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver in December. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

She is charged in the United States with bank fraud, and is accused of misleading HSBC Holdings PLC about Huawei Technologies' business in Iran, which is under U.S. sanctions.

Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition to the United States.

China's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged the re-elected Canadian government to immediately release the detained Huawei executive.

Geng Shuang, a spokesperson at the ministry, made the comment at a regular media briefing.

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