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Huawei gets true blue with Oz board

One Liberal, one Labor and a sailor all get a seat

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Chinese vendor Huawei has made an unprecedented move to ‘Australianise’ its business, with the creation of a local board decked with high profile political influencers.

The move is part of a bold localization strategy for the ambitious vendor to try and get a chunk of the NBN Co contract action. Huawei has mined both sides of politics for the board, with former Victorian Labor Premier John Brumby and former Liberal party foreign minister Alexander Downer tapped to sit alongside Royal Australian Navy veteran John Lord as chairman.

As was raised by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Lateline Business programme on June 6th, Lord is chairman of defence contractor DMS Maritime Services, while Downer has lobbied on behalf of Huawei for more than a year.

It is the first time Huawei has created a local board with independent directors anywhere in the world, and could provide a hint to the vendor's strategy in countries like the UK, where its makeover has included a local "advisory board" led by Sir Andrew Cahn.

The independent directors will join Huawei Australia CEO Guo Fulin, Huawei South Pacific President Jeff Liu, and two members from Huawei’s global board: global Director Chen Lifang, and global Executive Director Li Jie. The board will be oversee Huawei’s local strategy and assist in “developing further inroads into the Australian market.”

Huawei corporate affairs director Jeremy Mitchell said, “the three independent board directors will bring unparalleled experience in public administration and business, and will play a central role in steering Huawei’s Australian operations, as well as advancing Huawei’s business proposition to industry and government.”

Mitchell added the strategy added depth to the vendor’s commitment to the Australian market and its desire to win an equipment supply role with NBN Co. “We are deploying NBN infrastructure in Singapore, Malaysia and in the UK with BT,” he said. Mitchell confirmed that should the vendor secure a tender with NBN Co, the vendor would significantly increase local head count and look at doing part of the equipment assembly in Australia. ®

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