Huawei To Unveil £1.2bn UK Investment

Huawei To Unveil £1.2bn UK Investment

The Chinese telecoms equipment-maker Huawei will tomorrow hand David Cameron a post-Olympics trade boost by unveiling a £1.2bn investment plan to accelerate the growth of its British business.

I can reveal that Huawei, one of China’s largest - and most contentious - private companies, will pledge to create at least 700 jobs in the UK during the next five years while directly investing £600m in growing its operations in Britain.

A further £600m-benefit to the economy will be generated from procurement activity related to the direct investment activity, the company is expected to announce.

I understand that Mr Cameron is expected to endorse the news, hailing it as evidence that Britain's attractiveness as an investment destination is increasing in the wake of a successful summer hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Huawei is also expected to outline further details of plans to strengthen ties with British universities through an internships programme, as well as spelling out how it can offer British companies access to the giant Chinese market.

The news of Huawei's investment, which will be among the largest in Britain so far this year, will coincide with a rare visit to Britain by Ren Zhengfei, the company's founder.

Huawei is one of an emerging breed of Chinese companies which are becoming genuine challengers to established Western rivals. It recently overtook Sweden's Ericsson to become the world’s biggest telecoms equipment-manufacturer.

It has been dogged, though, by unproven - and frequently denied - allegations that it is a front for China’s People’s Liberation Army because of Mr Ren’s past as an engineer in the country's armed forces.

Huawei has in recent years seen expansion in Australia, India and, most notably, the US blocked by governments which have voiced fears that the Chinese company could be aiding cyber-attacks on technological infrastructure elsewhere in the world.

Such concerns have been dismissed by the company as examples of protectionist paranoia.

Unlike most large Chinese enterprises, Huawei is entirely privately-owned, with 65,000 of its 140,000 employees worldwide its only shareholders.

Huawei has taken a number of steps to allay concerns about its business activities, appointing a board of senior British businesspeople to advise it, including Baroness Wheatcroft, the former journalist, Andrew Cahn, the former head of UK Trade & Investment, and Brian McBride, ex-managing director of

It also operates a Cyber Security Evaluation Centre in Oxfordshire which works with GCHQ, the Government's signals intelligence agency, to ensure the integrity of the equipment it sells in Britain.

A design centre in London, which will be set up shortly, is also part of Huawei's future investment plans in the UK.

The company already counts all of the major UK broadband and smart-phone operators, including BT, TalkTalk and Vodafone, among its clients, and is attempting to make significant inroads into the enterprise solutions market for small and medium-sized business customers.

Seven years ago, it failed with a bid for Marconi, the struggling British manufacturer, the bulk of which was eventually subsumed into Ericsson.

A spokesman for Huawei's UK business declined to comment on Monday evening.