Huawei's succession plan in view as Meng takes up rotating chairwoman role from April at sanctions-hit tech giant
Huawei Technologies Co chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, daughter of company founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei, will assume the role as the company's rotating chairwoman from April, according to local media reports, amid ongoing speculation over the succession plan at the US sanctions-hit telecommunications giant.
Meng's tenure will last six months through to September 30, followed by the other two rotating chairmen Ken Hu Houkun and Eric Xu Zhijun, Huawei's board of directors confirmed in an internal meeting on Tuesday.
Huawei declined to comment on the report.
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It would be the first time for Meng, hailed as a national hero upon her return to China in a chartered flight in September 2021 after being detained in Canada, to act as the company's top leader, after her promotion to the role last March.
Meng was put under nearly three years of house arrest in Canada where she fought extradition to the US over a bank fraud case. Under a deal reached with US prosecutors, that case and other charges against Meng were dismissed last December.
Meng's tenure as rotating chairwoman comes at a critical time when the Shenzhen-based Huawei is facing increased pressure, with reports that the Biden administration is considering cutting off the firm from all of its American suppliers.
Sabrina Meng Wanzhou attends Huawei's annual report event in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, on March 28, 2022. Photo: SCMP/Iris Deng alt=Sabrina Meng Wanzhou attends Huawei's annual report event in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, on March 28, 2022. Photo: SCMP/Iris Deng>
Privately-held Huawei has been scrambling to adapt its production of smartphones and telecommunications network equipment amid tightened trade restrictions imposed by Washington in 2020, covering access to semiconductors developed or produced using US technology, from anywhere.
The world's largest telecoms equipment maker and formerly China's biggest smartphone vendor saw its once-lucrative handset business hobbled due to the sanctions, and it ran out of advanced in-house-designed semiconductors for smartphones in the third quarter last year, according to a report by Counterpoint Research.
However, the company has yet to give up on its handset business, and launched its latest flagship P60 models and foldable phone Mate X3 last week. Without 5G connectivity, the devices are powered by Qualcomm's 4G version of Snapdragon 8.
Huawei has also stepped up efforts to develop domestic replacements for various components. The company has replaced more than 13,000 components in its range of products with local substitutes and redesigned over 4,000 circuit boards in the past three years, Ren said during a February 24 seminar in comments that were made public earlier this month.
Meng's tenure will potentially offer pointers on Huawei's succession plan. While Huawei has rarely talked about the plan, speculation has been rife amid calls last year by Ren, 78, for employees to focus on the company's survival and give up on wishful thinking, as the world seemed headed for an economic recession.
Ren has three offspring from two marriages. Son Ren Ping has shown little interest in taking over the business, according to a New York Times report in 2013. Meanwhile, Ren's 25-year-old daughter Annabel Yao, nicknamed the "little princess" of Huawei, is pursuing a career in entertainment.
That leaves Meng as the most likely candidate to take over Huawei, despite Ren's earlier comments that she would never ascend to that role at the company due to the fact that she lacks a technical background.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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