LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese group Huawei Technologies, the world’s second-largest telecoms equipment maker, is to invest $2 billion expanding its operation in Britain, creating about 700 new jobs in the next five years.
Founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei outlined Huawei’s plan on Tuesday, when he also met Prime Minister David Cameron.
“The UK is an open market, which welcomes overseas investment. I am, therefore, very pleased today to be announcing the $2 billion investment and procurement plan, promoting the development of openness and free trade,” Ren said.
Cameron, who has been targeting overseas investment to help kick-start economic growth, said: “I want to see more companies invest in the UK as we work to achieve sustainable and balanced growth within our economy.
“The British government values the important relationship with China, both countries have much to offer each other and the business environment we are creating in the UK allows us to maximize this potential.”
Huawei, whose expansion plans have been met with suspicion in Australia and the United States over concerns about cyber security, said it would invest 650 million pounds ($1.0 billion)in Britain, where it will build its workforce to over 1,500 by 2017. A further 650 million pounds will be spent buying components over the next five years, it said.
The company, founded by Ren in 1987 after he was made redundant by China’s military, has diversified into consumer devices and enterprise networking equipment as growth in its core telecoms gear market has stalled.
The group said it worked with all the major telecom operators and broadband service providers in Britain, where plans for the first superfast mobile broadband service were also unveiled on Tuesday.
Three Huawei products - a smartphone, a mobile wifi hub, and a mobile broadband dongle - were included in the line-up of launch devices for the new network from operator EE.
Ren’s background with the Chinese military has been cited as hindering its progress overseas, although he has denied close links, pointing out he was made redundant from the People’s Liberation Army three decades ago.
Huawei has been actively hiring foreign executives, including former government officials and industry figures, in various parts of the company including senior positions and research and development, to help it achieve its global goals.
Reporting by Anne Marie Roantree in Hong Kong, and Mohammed Abbas, Tim Castle and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Dan Lalor