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Huawei reports huge drop in profits

AFP . Shenzhen
31 Mar 2023 17:54:45 | Update: 31 Mar 2023 17:54:45
Huawei reports huge drop in profits
Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou (R) attends the Huawei 2022 Annual Report press conference with deputy chairman and current rotating chairman Eric Xu (C) in Shenzhen, in China's southern Guangdong province on March 31, 2023 — AFP Photo

Huawei posted a massive drop in 2022 profits on Friday, as the company battered by US sanctions appointed its CEO's daughter to be its rotating chair.

A leading supplier of telecom gear, smartphones and other advanced equipment, a US-led pressure campaign in recent years has taken a major chunk out of Huawei's businesses.

And after posting record profits for 2021, the firm Friday reported 35.6 billion yuan ($5.2 billion) in net profits in 2022 -- a fall of 68.7 per cent year-on-year.

"In 2022, a challenging external environment and non-market factors continued to take a toll on Huawei's operations", the company's outgoing rotating chairman Eric Xu said at its annual report press conference.

"In the midst of this storm, we kept racing ahead, doing everything in our power to maintain business continuity and serve our customers," he said.

"We also went to great lengths to grow the harvest -– generating a steady stream of revenue to sustain our survival and lay the groundwork for future development," he added.

Taking over as chair -- a role that lasts six months -- is Meng Wanzhou, daughter of billionaire CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei.

"In accordance with Huawei's rotating chair system, Sabrina Meng will assume the position of rotating and acting chair of Huawei from April 1, 2023 to September 30, 2023," Huawei said in a statement, referring to Meng by her English name.

"During her term, Meng will serve in the company's top leadership position and head the board of directors and its executive committee," it added.

Meng was Huawei's chief financial officer when she was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018 in a case that became a major thorn in relations between China and both the United States and Canada.

The United States had sought her arrest for wire fraud and deceiving HSBC bank, relating to her alleged efforts to hide violations of US sanctions on Iran by Huawei affiliate Skycom.

And during the same period that Meng was held under house arrest, Washington intensified a campaign against the use of Huawei equipment in the United States and allies, saying it posed deep security threats.

Meanwhile China arrested and held two Canadians -- former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor -- forcing talks on what became labelled "hostage diplomacy."

Meng returned home in September 2021 shortly after the two Canadians were released from prison in China, after lengthy negotiations between Beijing and Ottawa.

Dimming fortunes

Since then Huawei's fortunes have dimmed further.

The firm was hammered during a crackdown by the administration of previous US president Donald Trump over cybersecurity and espionage concerns.

His successor Joe Biden has added to that pressure with regulations that threaten Huawei's access to global semiconductor supply chains.

Its 5G gear has been blocked in major markets including the United States, Britain and Japan over security concerns. Huawei has denied allegations that its equipment carries risks of sabotage and spying.

And the company -- once the world's top smartphone maker -- has seen sales slump after the United States cut off access to key parts and also barred it from using Google's Android operating system.

Huawei has moved to diversify revenue streams in the face of that pressure, moving into the cloud computing sector with an aim to invest in data centres around the world and also focused on offering consumer tech such as smartwatches in addition to phones.

The firm has also boosted its footprint in the auto sector as a supplier.

The company did not provide details about its net profit or a breakdown of figures from its various divisions.

Huawei is not publicly listed and its accounts are not subject to the same audits as companies traded on the stock market.