Huawei founder Zhengfei comes out in the open to highlight European focus

Huawei founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, further underlined the importance of Europe for the company's future growth during a rare briefing with local media that highlighted growing concerns at the Chinese equipment manufacturer over its international image.

Huawei founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei

Huawei founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei

Europe has become a key region for the Chinese vendor after U.S. government concerns over the security of the company's telecoms equipment all but drove it from the market in 2013. EMEA was Huawei's top revenue-generating territory in 2013, and the company has invested heavily in European research and development facilities in recent years.

Zhengfei used the briefing to reiterate that Huawei was not surprised by reports in March that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had monitored the company's servers, and added that Huawei's position as a leading global infrastructure supplier means similar scrutiny by other countries is likely, Reuters reported.

The CEO said reports of government surveillance would not impact Huawei's business in Europe, however, because the company has spent three decades building relationships--and trust--with customers in the region, Reuters added.

Zhengfei said it could take another 20 years to build similar trust in the U.S. market, and that the company will, in the meantime, focus on growing its business in countries where has already been accepted, Bloomberg reported.

That focus on building, and maintaining, trust means Huawei is unlikely to seek an IPO in the near term. Zhengfei said attempting to satisfy "greedy" shareholders would hinder efforts to make the company transparent, and credited the current structure for enabling the company to quickly overtake rival infrastructure providers, Bloomberg added.

However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Zhengfei conceded his natural shyness may have contributed to the suspicions about security, by adding an air of mystery to Huawei's operations. The Journal noted Zhengfei's revelations on his personality--he also said he has few hobbies beyond reading--is a rarity among Chinese executives.

Zhengfei said that U.S. surveillance of his communications would have little impact on his company, because he is more focused on overall strategy than the day-to-day running of the business, the Journal added.

Huawei currently shares the day-to-day aspect between three rotating CEOs, but executive vice president Eric Xu last month said the company is planning to end the practice in the coming years in favour of a management board approach, as it prepares for life after Zhengfei.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg report
- see the Wall Street Journal's report

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