Huawei rolls dice, adds exec heads to enterprise and carrier divisions amid troubled times

Wang and Li appointed following death of Ryan Ding

Beleaguered Chinese tech giant Huawei has named two execs to run its enterprise and carrier businesses following the death of Ryan Ding Yun, who had managed both units.

Ding passed away in the early hours of October 7, Huawei confirmed to us at the time, due to a "sudden illness." He was 53 and had worked for the company for almost half his life.

Huawei has asked David Wang Tao, exec director of the board and chairman of its Infrastructure Managing Board, to run the enterprise group. And David Li Peng has been passed the controls for the carrier business.

The appointments were announced internally by Huawei, and although the Shenzhen-headquartered organization has confirmed the appointments to The Reg, it has yet to comment further.

Wang landed at Huawei in 1997, so is also a veteran at the corporation. He will be charged with building Huawei's domestic vertical markets – including energy, finance, manufacturing, government, internet services, healthcare, retail and intelligent mines.

Wang previously led technical sales in Western Europe, where he was also managing director for operations in Italy and Switzerland. He will still remain as chairman of Huawei's investment review and cloud computing boards.

Li was president of Western region for Huawei from July 2014.

Given the size of those two businesses, Huawei needs leadership in place to steer them during the most difficult period in its corporate history.

In March, Huawei reported a 28.5 percent year-on-year plunge in revenues for calendar year 2021 to CNY636.8 billion (at the time $99.9 billion). The company has been under relentless attack in the USA since 2019 when then-President Donald Trump placed the company on the Entity List that prevented US suppliers from selling to it.

This affected much of Huawei's business and made it number one bogeyman in the West, amid fears of espionage and the company being a stooge for the Chinese government – accusations Huawei has always dismissed.

Turnover generated by the carrier business – Huawei's largest single division – was down seven percent in 2021 on the prior year, and revenue in the consumer group fell 49.6 percent. That sudden slide was largely caused by US sanctions that saw Google deny access to the latest Android operating system as well as Google services like the Play Store, Gmail and YouTube. While this didn't affect Huawei's market position in the Middle Kingdom – Chinese shoppers have other app stores and services to choose from – shoppers outside China seemingly did not want Google-free Android phones.

Profits for the year swelled by almost 76 percent, but this was in no small part due to Huawei's decision to sell the Honor brand and its x86 server unit. Employees were then handed $9.65 billion in dividends this year.

Life isn't getting any easier for Huawei. The UK government has set a 2027 deadline for removal of Huawei kit from 5G networks – a decision the administration was forced to make in 2020 under pressure from US counterparts. US authorities have made similar orders on national security grounds.

It appears that action against Huawei was something of a test balloon. Since it appears to have been successful without too much blowback against the US, Washington has intensified efforts to depress development of tech across whole sectors in China – mostly notably chip innovation and production.

Huawei CEO Xen Zhengfei told staff earlier this year that Huawei is in survival mode. It looks like the global domination he once desired is out of reach, but dominance of China's domestic market is very much on the agenda – and very desirable given the colossal size of the market.

Beijing, meanwhile, continues to use offers to build cheap telecoms infrastructure – which pretty much means Huawei – as leverage in its diplomatic overtures to nations it courts as potential allies. ®

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