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Meng Wanzhou is added to the Huawei chair rotation

Recently released Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou (pictured) will probably get a go at running the whole show later this year because she has been added to the ‘rotating chair’ roster.

They seem to like a rotating chair in China, with some notable exceptions. Huawei is a private company and can run itself however it wants, but says it has a ‘collective leadership model’. The pool from which its rotating chairs are chosen every six months is pretty small, however. Ken Hu, who served as rotating chair from October 2011 to March 2018 has been given another go at the top job, replacing Guo Ping, who is moved to chairman of the supervisory board.

Ping’s place in the rotation has been filled by Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei and company CFO. She has also been recently released from house arrest after the failure of the US to extradite her from China on allegations of sanction-busting. Since the only other member of the new-look musical chairs roster is Eric Xu, who had a go at the head of the table before Guo Ping, the smart money is on Meng having her turn in six months’ time.

We reached out to Huawei for the official line. “The company is optimizing and refining its internal governance structure to make sure the company is built to last,” said a Huawei spokesperson. “This election of the new Supervisory Board was conducted to this end as part the company’s normal corporate governance work and in compliance with its Charter of Corporate Governance.

“As Huawei’s highest oversight body, the Supervisory Board exercises the authority of oversight on behalf of the company’s shareholders. The Supervisory Board is responsible for the company’s survival, development, and long-term prospects. Its core authorities include leader management, business reviews, and strategic vision. Members of the Supervisory Board were elected by the Representatives’ Commission and voted in by the Shareholders’ Meeting. The Supervisory Board has established the Executive Committee, which acts as authorized by the Supervisory Board.”

Clear enough? The Representatives’ Commission consists of Ren Zhengfei and ‘the union’. We can’t work out who appoints the other executive positions, nor what the difference is between the chairman of the supervisory board and the other chairman (as opposed to rotating chair), which seems to be a permanent position held by Liang Hua. Here’s where Huawei explains its corporate governance.

What all this means for the strategic direction of Huawei is anyone’s guess. Superficially it could be viewed as a consolidation of power by Ren Zhengfei and maybe even a gesture of defiance to the US. Meng is likely to have some strong feelings about that country following her incarceration but how those will manifest themselves in her management of the company is impossible to predict. Thankfully it looks like we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

 

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One comment

  1. Avatar Graeme Bellis 06/04/2022 @ 1:31 am

    The extradition was from China and it didn’t go ahead because Canada arranged a prisoner swap.
    Apart from that I thought there were standards that prohibited people who have committed crimes to be on company boards. Apparently not in China🤦🏼‍♂️

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