Huawei troika back, and with renewed purpose
Chinese technology giant Huawei has re-appointed its three high-profile Australian board members and said it will introduce its Australian board model to other markets.
Board chairman and former admiral John Lord, ex-Victorian premier John Brumby and former foreign minister Alexander Downer will serve another two-year term, until the end of 2015.
Mr Lord, a former fleet commander of the Australian navy, said he and his fellow board members remained confident of Huawei's security record, brushing aside concerns in Australia and the US about claims of alleged espionage activities. "All three of us, offering ourselves to be re-appointed this time, it is clear demonstration that we are totally comfortable with Huawei and we are proud of the company," he said. "In fact, we are probably stronger in our enthusiasm for the company as we learned more about it."
Huawei, the second-biggest vendor of telecoms equipment in the world, created its first local board outside of China two years ago in Australia as a pilot program to test its local engagement strategy.
The company has been under pressure to lift the veil around its corporate governance and shareholding arrangements amid suspicions over its alleged links with the Chinese government.
Company founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei said local directors were important part of Huawei's success in Australia.
"Huawei Australia's independent directors have shown how local knowledge and expertise can deliver positive results in the local markets," he said.
Mr Lord described the Australian board as a "complete decision board", saying it was responsible for crafting the overall business strategy of Huawei Australia.
"We are the first non-executive directors they've had; part of our process is ... working with them to make sure governance is followed," he said.
However, the Chinese company's global headquarters still appoints the chief executive officer of Huawei Australia.
Mr Lord said it was common practice for global companies such as Shell or Toyota to transfer executives around the world to get international experiences.
Mr Lord also revealed the company was on the cusp of rolling out the Australian board governance structure to other markets.
"Huawei has passed on to us that they are committed to expanding [Australian] board model globally, over the coming year or two," he said. "They will implement different levels of board in the different countries around the globe."
The company has expanded to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, but is shunned in countries such as the United States, the largest telecommunication equipment market in the world.
Huawei is also banned from supplying equipment to the national broadband network in Australia.
However, the company is a major supplier of telecommunication equipments to mobile carriers such as Optus and Vodafone.
The company has embarked on a charm offensive to woo politicians, media and the public.
Huawei signed its first ever sports sponsorship deal, with Canberra Raiders, last year and has just extended that for another season.
The company has also urged Australian suppliers to become part of Huawei's global supply chain, hoping more local businesses will become advocates for the company.