Huawei Technologies faces French probe

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Huawei Technologies, the Chinese wireless equipment maker, has come under scrutiny in France as its office near Paris was recently searched as part of a preliminary investigation by French financial prosecutors. The probe, which is focused on suspicions of atteinte à la probité—a term encompassing various infractions including corruption, misuse of public funds, or influence peddling—was confirmed by a justice ministry official on Thursday. However, no further details about the alleged actions were provided.

In response to the investigation, Huawei France issued a statement confirming the search at its office and asserting full cooperation with the authorities. The company emphasized its compliance with French laws and regulations, highlighting its presence in France for over two decades. While Huawei France refrained from commenting on the ongoing investigation, it expressed confidence in the outcome.

The probe was first reported by French news website l’Informe, shedding light on the growing regulatory scrutiny faced by Huawei. Despite this, Huawei has continued its operations in France, with research centers in the country and plans to establish its first production factory outside China near Strasbourg. The new facility, slated to open by the end of 2025, aims to produce telecommunications equipment for European markets and is expected to provide employment to 500 people in the long run.

However, Huawei’s business in France has faced challenges, particularly after the French government’s decision to restrict the company’s involvement in certain critical parts of its wireless infrastructure. This move led to operators beginning to remove Huawei equipment in cities, impacting the company’s revenue in the country. Financial filings by Huawei Technologies France revealed a decline in revenue from €1.4 billion in 2019 to €992 million (US$1.1 billion) in 2022, the latest available data.

Despite these challenges, Huawei remains engaged with French mobile phone carriers such as SFR (a unit of Altice France) and Bouygues to deploy their 5G networks, as stated by Zhang Minggang, co-head of Huawei France, in December. The outcome of the investigation and Huawei’s efforts to navigate regulatory challenges will likely shape its future operations in France and its broader global strategy.

(Source: CNN | Bloomberg | SCMP | Taipei Times)

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