Huawei hires U.S. advisers to alleviate security concerns

On the heels of reports last week that Huawei is bidding on a significant wireless contract with Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) comes word that the Chinese equipment maker has hired a slate of U.S. advisers to help it overcome security concerns that it believes have prevented it from fulfilling its U.S. ambitions.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal that cited people familiar with the matter, Huawei has retained law firms Sullivan & Cromwell, Skadden Arps and Arnold & Porter. All of these firms specialize in telecom, mergers and winning federal approval for sensitive international deals. Although none of the firms would confirm that Huawei is their client, Joseph Frumkin, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, said his firm serves as an "enabler" for Chinese companies and helps them get deals done. In addition, Huawei last fall hired American Matt Bross as its chief technical officer.

Huawei already has lost out on deals because of concerns that the company has links to the Chinese government and military. The vendor's founder and largest shareholder, Ren Zhengfei, is a former army officer. The company in 2007 backed out of a deal to partner with Bain Capital to purchase 3Com. The  deal was being reviewed by the Committee of Foreign Investment when Huawei pulled out.  3Com was later purchased by Hewlett Packard.

Last week the Financial Times reported that Huawei is bidding for a significant wireless contract with Sprint. The report said the contract is for Sprint's mobile broadband network, but did not specify which type of technology. Sprint offers WiMAX, CDMA and iDEN network services.

For more:
- see this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)

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