Huawei rotates 3 co-CEOs


HUAWEI Technologies Co, China's largest maker of phone equipment, yesterday said its founder Ren Zhengfei is splitting the role of chief executive officer with a panel of three executives who will rotate at six-month intervals.

Vice Chairmen Guo Ping, Eric Xu Zhijun and Ken Hu Houkun will join Ren as co-CEOs, spokesman Ross Gan said yesterday. Ren, 67, also retains his title as a vice chairman of Huawei, according to the company's annual report released yesterday.

"This is succession planning with Chinese characteristics," said David Wolf, CEO of Wolf Group Asia, a Beijing-based marketing consulting firm, who has researched China's telecommunications industry with funding from Huawei. "Ren wants to keep talent. This is excellent way to keep as many tigers in his part of the forest as possible. What would be terrible would be for one of these people to run off."

Ren founded Huawei in 1988 and built it into the world's largest maker of equipment for phone networks after Ericsson AB.

Huawei initially implemented a rotating CEO system last year in which Ren mentored the executives, said Ren's December note to employees.

His December 25 memo to employees didn't specify what role he would play in the company's new structure, or which executives were participating in the CEO rotation. In the same memo, Ren said he had been treated for cancer twice in the previous eight years.

Chairwoman Sun Yafang's role at Huawei is unchanged, the report said.

Huawei profit fell to 11.6 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion) in 2011, less than half the 24.7 billion yuan it reported a year earlier, its annual report said. Profit slipped as the company raised investment in research and development and funded the global expansion of new businesses targeting sales of consumer devices including smartphones and computer services for businesses. Sales rose to 203.9 billion yuan from 182.5 billion yuan.


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