Huawei forces its restart

A revenge on fate. On Monday March 28, Huawei staged the presentation of its annual results in Shenzhen like never before: bombarded on the front of the stage, in a setting reminiscent of the splendor of a European palace, Meng Wanzhou, the group’s financial director and daughter of the founder Ren Zhengfei, did not hide his pleasure. Not so much the return of face-to-face events, after two years of a pandemic, as his regained freedom.

“Nice to see you,” the leader soberly said, wearing a black dress with a butterfly-shaped brooch. Meng Wanzhou has returned to China after three years of house arrest with an electronic bracelet in Canada. The one who has just taken the lead by accessing the rotating general management of Huawei was arrested at the end of 2018 in Vancouver, at the request of the American authorities who accused her of having lied in order to circumvent the sanctions against the Iranian regime.

Since her return to the country, the 50-year-old had not spoken publicly. His presence therefore symbolizes in itself the state of mind of the Chinese group. As much as the image projected during the presentation: an icebreaker splitting a frozen sea. Three years after the American sanctions which strongly hinder the giant, the former herald of Chinese tech intends to pursue his path at all costs.

Meng Wanzhou had come to deliver good news. It revealed a record profit of 16.2 billion euros for 2021, which jumped 76% year on year. Despite the sanctions, “our ability to make profits and generate cash flow is increasing,” boasted the chief financial officer. Except that these very good results leave a misleading impression. They are for the most part exceptional, due to the sale of Ho-nor smartphones and a drastic cost reduction policy. And Huawei’s turnover is gray, down 28.6% in 2021, to 87 billion euros.

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