Huawei to hire 5,500 more workers in Europe

Telecoms network supplier shifts focus to countries where it is not under suspicion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 June, 2014, 1:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 12:01am

Huawei Technologies, China's biggest maker of phone network equipment, plans to increase its European workforce as it competes for business in the region against rivals including Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson.

The company will add about 5,500 employees in the next five years in Europe, where it will double its research and development staff to 1,700 in three years, chief strategy marketing officer William Xu said in Milan.

Huawei’s 2013 European procurements exceed US$3.4 billion

Huawei is focusing investment on countries where it has been accepted, as suspicions linger in the United States that its gear may give Chinese intelligence services the opportunity to tamper with networks for spying, the company said last month.

Revenue from Europe, the Middle East and Africa rose 9.4 per cent last year to the equivalent of about US$13.6 billion, more than from the Asia-Pacific and the Americas combined.

"Huawei's 2013 European procurements exceed US$3.4 billion," Xu said, declining to disclose detailed figures for each country.

Shenzhen-based Huawei has about 7,700 employees in Europe, he said. That's about 5 per cent of its global workforce of about 150,000 last year.

European carriers have been slower than their US or Asian peers to spend on a new generation of faster networks.

Alcatel-Lucent, which forecast in April that demand for network equipment from European operators would pick up in 18 to 24 months, announced on Wednesday it had appointed Roberto Loiola to lead its Italian unit. Loiola resigned from Huawei last month, where he served as vice-president for Western Europe.

Huawei's Italian customers include phone company Wind Telecomunicazioni, owned by Russia's VimpelCom. Last year, Wind hired Huawei and Milan-based Sirti to supply equipment and infrastructure services as it spends €1 billion (HK$10.5 billion) over five years to build a high-speed mobile network.

Huawei is strengthening its business in the country, where it has established its only microwave research-and-development centre in the world, in Milan, employing more than 100 engineers.

The company has about 800 employees in Italy, and Xu welcomed a trip by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to China this week.

"Huawei and the Italian government have always had friendly communications," Xu said, adding that the visit will "enhance the understanding between the two countries".