China's Huawei Technologies reshuffles board for first time since 2012

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Smartphone maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] said it has elected a new board in its first reshuffle since 2012, shedding some light on the company’s succession plans following speculation about the retirement of founder Ren Zhengfei.

FILE PHOTO: Journalists attend the presentation of the Huawei's new smartphone in Paris, May 7, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

Ren will step down as vice chairman, though he will remain as CEO and board member under the new board, Huawei said in a statement to Reuters, confirming reports in local media.

The telecoms industry has been expecting the 73-year-old to eventually retire but the company has given no exact timeframe.

Huawei said Liang Hua, who has held various positions since joining the company in 1995, will become chairman, replacing chairwoman Sun Yafang.

Ren’s daughter, Meng Wanzhou, who is CFO, was elected one of the four vice chairpersons in the board reshuffle, Huawei said.

The company also said its rotating CEO system, in which Guo Ping, Eric Xu and Ken Hu used to take turns as CEO, would be replaced by a rotating chairman system.

The chairmen will include Guo, Xu and Hu. Huawei did not provide more details.

The new appointments take place with immediate effect, Huawei said.

Huawei was founded by Ren, a former People’s Liberation Army officer in 1987. The company has grown into a global player in telecom equipment and a key brand in mobile phones.

In December, it flagged overall and smartphone revenue figures for 2017 that represented its slowest growth in four years, and vowed to extend its global reach with more premium products next year.

Reporting by Sijia Jiang in HONG KONG and Lee Chyen Yee in SINGAPORE. Editing by Jane Merriman