Connect with us

Business

Billionaire Huawei founder defiant in face of existential threat

Published

on

Huawei Technologies Co. founder Ren Zhengfei struck a defiant tone in the face of US sanctions that threaten his company’s very survival.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, the billionaire founder of China’s largest technology company conceded that Trump administration export curbs will cut into a two-year lead Huawei had painstakingly built over rivals like Ericsson AB and Nokia Oyj. But the company will either ramp up its own chip supply or find alternatives to keep its edge in smartphones and 5G.

The US on May 17 blacklisted Huawei — which it accuses of aiding Beijing in espionage — and cut it off from the US software and components it needs to make its products. The ban hamstrings the world’s largest provider of networking gear and No. 2 smartphone vendor, just as it was preparing to vault to the forefront of global technology. It’s rocking chipmakers from America to Europe as the global supply chain comes under threat. The ban could also disrupt the rollout of 5G wireless globally, undermining a standard that’s touted as the foundation of everything from autonomous cars to robot surgery.

Ren maintained Huawei had the capability to devise its own solutions — given time. It’s been designing its own chips for years, which it now uses in many of its own smartphones. It’s even developing its own operating software to run phones and servers. The CEO however deflected questions about how quickly Huawei can ramp up those internal replacement endeavors. Failure could dent the fast-growing consumer business and even kill emergent efforts such as cloud servers.

“That depends on how fast our repairmen are able to fix the plane,” said Ren, who appeared at ease in a white jacket over a pink shirt, making light of questions about his company’s plight. “No matter what materials they use, be it metal, cloth or paper, the aim is to keep the plane in the sky.”

Ren has gone from recluse to media maven in the span of months as he fights to save the $100 billion company he founded. The 74-year-old billionaire emerged from virtual seclusion after the arrest of eldest daughter and Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou as part of a broader probe of Huawei. He’s since become a central figure in a US-Chinese conflict that’s potentially the most important episode to shape world affairs since the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Ren said in January, when the world’s biggest economies battle for dominion, nothing in their way will survive. His company is a “sesame seed” between twin great powers, he said.

“This may bring one of China’s national champions to its knees,’’ said Chris Lane, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “If China shut down all the Apple plants, the US would get very upset. This is a similar kind of move.”

Ren has had much to deal with of late. His company finds itself increasingly under fire, besieged by a US effort to get key allies to ban its equipment. The US assault helped crystallize fears about Huawei’s growing clout in areas from wireless infrastructure and semiconductors to consumer gadgets.

Then came the blacklist. Huawei appears to have anticipated this possibility since at least mid-2018, when similar sanctions threatened to sink rival ZTE Corp. Huawei’s said to have stockpiled enough chips and other vital components to keep its business running at least three months.

“We have made some really good chips,” said Ren, a legendary figure in his home country thanks to the way he built Huawei from scratch into a global powerhouse. “Being able to grow in the toughest battle environment, that just reflects how great we are.”

Last week, Trump said Huawei could become part of a US-Chinese trade deal, stirring speculation it was a bargaining chip in sensitive negotiations. But Ren said he wasn’t a politician. “It’s a big joke,” he scoffed. “How are we related to China-US trade?”

If Trump calls, “I will ignore him, then to whom can he negotiate with? If he calls me, I may not answer. But he doesn’t have my number.”

In fact, Ren pulled no punches in going after a man he labeled “a great president” just months prior. “I see his tweets and think it’s laughable because they’re self-contradictory,” he quipped. “How did he become a master of the art of the deal?”

Beijing itself isn’t without options. Some speculate China might retaliate against the ban of Huawei — which may widen to include some of its most promising AI firms — by in turn barring America’s largest corporations from its own markets. Apple Inc. could relinquish nearly a third of its profit if China banned its products, Goldman Sachs analysts estimate.

Ren said he would object to any such move against his American rival.

“That will not happen, first of all. And second of all, if that happens, I’ll be the first to protest,” Ren said in the interview. “Apple is my teacher, it’s in the lead. As a student, why go against my teacher? Never.”

At the heart of Trump’s campaign is suspicion that Huawei aids Beijing in espionage while spearheading China’s ambitions to become a technology superpower. It’s been accused for years of stealing intellectual property in lawsuits filed by American companies from Cisco Systems Inc. and Motorola Inc. to T-Mobile US Inc. Critics say such theft helped Huawei vault into the upper echelons of technology — but Ren laughed off that premise.

“I stole the American technologies from tomorrow. The US doesn’t even have those technologies,” he said. “We are ahead of the US If we were behind, there would be no need for Trump to strenuously attack us.”

Ren’s easy demeanor belies the way he’s consistently shunned attention. The army engineer-turned-entrepreneur has this year turned in a command performance in the public spotlight, particularly for someone who’s rarely spoken to foreign media since he created Huawei. The re-emergence of the reclusive CEO — who before January last spoke with foreign media in 2015 — underscores the depth of the attacks on Huawei, the largest symbol of China’s growing technological might. Ren again waved off speculation his company is in any way beholden to the Communist Party, though he’s declared his loyalty ultimately lies with the country’s ruling body.

US lawmakers aren’t convinced. That’s why the US Commerce Department cut off the flow of American technology — from chips to software and everything in-between.

An iconic figure in Chinese business circles, the billionaire remains a uniquely placed voice in a conflict that will help define the global landscape. Ren, who says he survived the chaos of the Cultural Revolution thanks in part to his much sought-after expertise in high-precision tools, remains a big believer that Huawei’s technology will win the day.

His company today generates more sales than internet giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. combined. In 2018, Huawei overtook Apple in smartphone sales, a triumph that burnished his tech credentials. His quotes adorn the walls of the food court at Huawei’s sprawling campus on the outskirts of the southern metropolis of Shenzhen, and employees still speak of him in reverent tones. The company’s 2018 report shows he has a 1.14% stake, giving him a net worth of $2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Ren, who survived Mao Zedong’s great famine to found Huawei in 1987 with 21,000 yuan, said Huawei will do whatever it takes to survive. It will ignore the noise while doing its business the best it can. Meanwhile, the pressure is bound to take a toll. At one point during the interview, Ren’s unflappable demeanor cracked — if only for a minute.

“The US has never bought products from us,” he said, bristling. “Even if the US wants to buy our products in the future, I may not sell to them. There’s no need for a negotiation.”

Source

Business

Oyo buys Las Vegas Hooters Hotel in its first US purchase

Published

on

In what is its first property purchase in U.S., Soft Bank-backed Oyo Hotels and Homes, has bought the Hooters Casino Hotel Las Vegas.

While, Oyo did not divulge the financial terms of the transaction, a person close to the development said Oyo and Highgate, an American real estate investment and hospitality management company, are together putting in $135 million for the asset.

Hooters Casino Hotel will now be rebranded and designed as Oyo Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, the company said in a statement. It provides 657 rooms across 19 floors and a 35,000 square-foot casino.

Highgate will assume management of the hotel, and Paragon Gaming will continue to operate the casino, Oyo said.

“We believe Las Vegas is an exciting city in which to invest as the market continues to evolve with projects such as the new Las Vegas Raiders NFL stadium and the $1 billion expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. As we continue to focus on bringing to life our popular concept of ‘comfort design’ and delivering chic hospitality experiences, we are increasingly exploring new ways to connect with our customers, from millennials, to young executives and families, in every city we enter,” said Abhinav Sinha, chief operating officer and OYO Hotels and Homes USA.

Earlier in June, Oyo had announced its plan to invest $300 million in the U.S. Currently, there it has over 112 Oyo Hotels in more than 60 cities and 21 states in the U.S.

“With our newest hotel in Las Vegas, we are excited to cater to a completely different audience segment,” said Ritesh Agarwal, founder and chief executive, OYO Hotels and Homes.

Founded in 2013, OYO Hotels & Homes is the world’s third-largest chain of hotels, homes, managed living and workspaces. The portfolio combines fully operated real estate comprising of more than 23,000 hotels and 125,000 vacation homes. Over the years, it has attracted an array of investors including the likes of Airbnb, SoftBank Vision Fund, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Greenoaks Capital, Sequoia Capital India, and Hero Enterprise.

Oyo has been on an acquisition spree. In July, it confirmed its acquisition of Innov8, a co-working spaces provider, highlighting the company’s increasing focus on the fast-growing segment. While Oyo did not disclose financial details of the Innov8 acquisition, it is pegged to be around $30 million, according to a TechCrunch report.

In May, Oyo said it has agreed to acquire Amsterdam-based @Leisure Group, from Axel Springer, a media and technology company, for an undisclosed amount. @Leisure is a vacation rental company in Europe, which manages holiday homes, holiday parks, and holiday apartments. The transaction was pegged around $416 million, according to several media reports.

Last year, it acquired Mumbai-based Weddingz.in, an online marketplace for wedding venues, and AblePlus Solutions Pvt. Ltd, an Internet of Things (IoT) technology company.

It claims to have a balance sheet of about $1.5 billion. OYO has raised nearly $1.7 billion in funding over 12 rounds.

source

Continue Reading

Business

Donald Trump does not want to do business with China’s Huawei

Published

on

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday said he did not want the United States to do business with China’s Huawei even as the administration weighs whether to extend a grace period for the company.

Reuters and other media outlets reported on Friday that the U.S. Commerce Department is expected to extend a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from U.S. companies so that it can service existing customers.

The “temporary general license” will be extended for Huawei for 90 days, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the situation.

On Sunday, Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One in New Jersey that he did not want to do business with Huawei for national security reasons.

“At this moment it looks much more like we’re not going to do business,” Trump said. “I don’t want to do business at all because it is a national security threat and I really believe that the media has covered it a little bit differently than that.”

He said there were small parts of Huawei’s business that could be exempted from a broader ban, but that it would be “very complicated.” He did not say whether his administration would extend the “temporary general license.”

Speaking earlier on Sunday, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow said the Commerce department would extend the Huawei licensing process for three months as a gesture of “good faith” amid broader trade negotiations with China.

“We’re giving a break to our own companies for three months,” Kudlow said on NBC’s “Meet the Press”. 

source

Continue Reading

Business

Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani grooms the heirs to his $50 billion fortune

Published

on

Among Mumbai’s glitziest society events over the past year were two weddings in the family of Mukesh Ambani, the Indian tycoon who in 2018 became Asia’s richest person.

In December, his 27-year-old daughter Isha got married in a Bollywood-style extravaganza attended by global power brokers and titans of finance. Beyonce sang at the festivities, Hillary Clinton flew in and KKR & Co.’s Henry Kravis made an appearance. In March, her twin brother Akash wed in a ceremony attended by the likes of Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai.

The lavish events put Ambani’s eldest children in a very public spotlight at a time when they are playing more visible roles at his Reliance Industries Ltd.’s retail and telecommunications businesses.

Ambani, 62, has big ambitions in new areas like e-commerce and is enlisting his children to help drive the modernization of his empire. The rise of the twins offers early signs of the efforts the titan is making to groom his heirs. The billionaire on Aug. 12 announced that the world’s biggest crude producer, Saudi Aramco, will buy a 20% stake in the oil and chemicals business of Reliance Industries, allowing the Indian conglomerate to reduce the debt that increased during its expansion spree of recent years.

Over the coming decades, billions of dollars in wealth will be handed over to yet another generation in family-controlled businesses across Asia. Such dynastic transfers can come with pitfalls, as Mukesh and his younger brother, Anil, well know. More than a decade ago, the brothers were embroiled in a feud over the family business after their father, Dhirubhai, died without leaving a will.The twins are having a very different beginning to their careers from the patriarch, Dhirubhai. The late industrialist—who started out as a gas-station attendant in Yemen—built up Reliance Industries into a petrochemicals giant at a time when India’s economy was heavily controlled by the government.

“They have to show their mettle in entrepreneurship and strategy like their father and grandfather,” said Kavil Ramachandran, a professor and executive director at the Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise at the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business.

Representatives for the senior Ambani brothers declined to comment, and Isha and Akash were not available for interviews.

Appointed in 2014 to the boards of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., the mobile carrier unit, and Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd., the twins have raised their profiles in subsequent years, addressing investors at annual shareholder meetings and introducing new products. The duo also helped bring an open-office culture for top executives at the group’s corporate park in Mumbai’s outskirts.

At Reliance Industries’ annual meeting on Aug. 12, they demonstrated a range of applications such as virtual reality and conference calls that come with a new high-speed data network the company is rolling out.

Isha, a Yale University graduate and a former McKinsey & Co. consultant, kicked off Reliance’s e-commerce foray into fashion retail in 2016 by starting online shopping portal Ajio. Her husband is Anand Piramal, the son of Indian billionaire Ajay Piramal, whose interests range from pharmaceuticals to real estate.

Akash, a Brown University alumnus, has studied economics. He married his childhood sweetheart, Shloka Mehta, the daughter of a Mumbai-based diamond trader and jeweler. The twins have a younger brother, Anant, 24.

“Going forward, you will see Anant also taking some key responsibilities,” said Arun Kejriwal, founder at KRIS, an investment advisory firm.

The younger generation is getting involved at a time when Reliance is pivoting toward consumer offerings, which Ambani has said will contribute almost as much as the group’s core energy businesses by the end of 2028. Global retailers such as Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. are also expanding in India, bringing in new competition that the Ambani family must contend with in the coming years.

Ambani’s group is attempting to use its mobile carrier and retail units to tap India’s online shopping market, which by Morgan Stanley’s estimates will surge sixfold to $200 billion in about a decade. At the same time, Reliance’s Jio, since its debut in 2016, has shaken up India’s telecommunications industry with free calls and cheap data, forcing a consolidation that whittled down carriers to three from about a dozen four years ago.

The senior Ambani has credited his children with helping to nudge him into the internet business.

In 2011, while in India on a break from college at Yale, Isha complained about the poor quality of the internet at the family home, which made it more difficult for her to submit her coursework, Ambani has said. Meanwhile, Akash kept reminding his father that digital communications, rather than just phones, were now driving the world.

After Dhirubhai’s death in 2002, the brothers’ fight for control went on until their mother intervened in 2005 and brokered a settlement under which they carved up the vast empire. The older one kept the oil refining and petrochemicals businesses, while the younger one got the newer ventures in finance, infrastructure, power and telecom.

While the paths of the brothers diverged, so have their fortunes. Mukesh’s worth is about $50 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He lives a lifestyle to match, with a 27-story, 400,000-square-foot home in Mumbai named Antilia, after a mythical island, that boasts nine elevators, a spa, a 50-seat theater and a helipad.

The value of Anil’s holdings in companies, calculated net of pledged shares, is about $75 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with a net worth of at least $31 billion in 2008.  Stock prices of Anil’s various businesses have slumped as the units struggle to pay about $13 billion of debt—not counting his phone venture, which this year slipped into bankruptcy.

Bloomberg News is currently defending litigation brought by Anil Ambani and his Reliance Communications in connection with previous Bloomberg reporting.

Earlier this year, Mukesh stepped in to pay about $78 million of vendor dues owed by one of Anil’s businesses, helping his younger brother avoid a stint in jail.

Meanwhile, Mukesh isn’t the only one preparing his offspring for the future.Now working to reduce his debt load by selling the equivalent of more than $3 billion in assets, Anil also has an eye to the future. His son, Jai Anmol, 27, Anil’s son, was appointed executive director at Reliance Capital Ltd. in 2016.

source

Continue Reading

Newsletters

Enter your email address to get latest updates

Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2018 - 2019 Delhi Wire.