Huawei CFO Says Her Company Is Open To An IPO Listing

Huawei CFO Cathy Meng said yesterday her company is open to a listing (link via Google Translate) after disclosing details of its 2012 performance.

Meng said last year rose 8 percent year-on-year to 220 billion yuan ($35.4 billion), boosting net income 33 percent to 15.4 billion yuan. The company may once again put it ahead of Ericsson AB in the race to become the world’s biggest telecom equipment maker by revenue. Ericsson, which will report earnings at the end of this month, is expected by analysts to post 2012 sales of 226.9 billion Swedish kroner ($34.8 billion), about the same as its 2011 results.

Meng said she disclosed the figures as part of her company’s efforts to “honor our commitment to transparency.” Huawei has been criticized in the past for being secretive and founder Ren Zheng-Fei’s alleged ties with the Chinese army, provoking concerns by U.S. lawmakers that Huawei is a Chinese military front company bent on U.S. espionage.  Meng denied these allegations and expressed frustrations with U.S. investigations into Huawei’s alleged connections to Chinese espionage: “These measures using trade protectionism to interfere with free competition will ultimately harm the benefits of end users and consumers.”

A White House review last October, however, reportedly found no evidence of spying by Huawei.

With the new disclosed sales figures, Huawei is now again considering an IPO.  The listing has been delayed partly due to the company’s complicated share structure and by concerns that a listing would not allay U.S. lawmakers’ suspicions that the Huawei is involved in espionage. Instead of an IPO in mainland China, analysts have speculated that Huawei might do an IPO in Hong Kong or London. Last October, The Wall Street Journal reported that Huawei saw the IPO move as a way to be more transparent and allay concerns from the U.S.

Meanwhile, Huawei has been focusing on technology innovation as well as expanding its footing in emerging markets.  Meng said that R&D spending last year rose 26 percent to 29.9 billion yuan ($4.7 billion), and that Europe, the Middle East and Africa made up 35 percent of its sales, while 17 percent were in other Asia-Pacific markets and 15 percent from the Americas.

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