Huawei's CEO, closer now to daughter, rules her out as successor
Ren Zhengfei, the billionaire founder of Huawei Technologies Co., told a Canadian TV channel his daughter won’t succeed him but her battle against potential U.S. extradition has brought them closer.
Meng Wanzhou — the Huawei finance chief who’s living on bail in Vancouver — has been a good manager but a leader needs to foresee things 10 or 20 years ahead, Ren said in an interview with CTV News at the Chinese technology giant’s Shenzhen headquarters. Meng had in fact been contemplating quitting before her arrest, Ren said, according to a translation the media outlet provided.
“She was not happy working here but after being arrested, this matter improved our relationship and now she understands how difficult life can be,” he told CTV.
“This ability to observe the future has to have a technical background — without that, you won’t be able to foresee things that will happen in the future,” he said. “She won’t be a successor because she doesn’t have this background.”
Meng was arrested during a stopover at Vancouver’s airport on Dec. 1 at the behest of the U.S., which accuses her of lying to banks to trick them into processing transactions that potentially violated Iran sanctions. She faces multiple criminal charges, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
Meng, released on $10 million ($7.5 million U.S.) bail in December, has been living with her husband and youngest daughter in one of the family’s two luxury homes in Vancouver. Ren told his daughter has “committed no crime” and that he supports her efforts to fight extradition. Meng is arguing the U.S. charges are politically motivated and is also suing Canada for what she calls wrongful detention.
Yet the experience has benefited their relationship: in the past, father and daughter rarely exchanged phone calls, he said. “Once a year, we exchanged pleasantries because we were all busy,” he told CTV. “But now, every other day we have phone calls,” he said.
“We shoot the breeze, tell jokes, I tell her some anecdote I’ve read on the internet,” Ren added. “The case in Canada made my bonds deeper with my daughter.”
It’s not the first time Ren, a former army engineer, has ruled out his daughter. The 47-year-old Meng has spent almost her entire working life at Huawei. Amid speculation about Ren’s succession plans, the patriarch sent an internal email in 2013 in which he laid out the qualities needed and concluded “none of my family members possess these qualities” and “will never be included in the sequence of successors,” online news service Sina Tech has reported.
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