Huawei U.K. Chairman Browne to Leave as Members Review Positions

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John Browne will step down ahead of schedule as chairman of the U.K. board of directors of Huawei Technologies Co. as Britain prepares to exclude the company from its next-generation telecommunication networks.

Browne, formerly chief executive officer at BP Plc, will step down in September instead of March, a spokesman for Huawei said Tuesday. Another member of Huawei’s U.K. board will review their position based on the government guidance, due to be updated later Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter. A Huawei spokesman wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Britain is poised to ban the Shenzhen-based company’s gear from 5G networks, Bloomberg News reported. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his senior ministers and top security chiefs will be presented with the proposal at a meeting of the National Security Council, with a decision to be announced later in the House of Commons.

If the plan is agreed to at that meeting, it would risk escalating tensions between the U.K. and China at a highly sensitive time. Senior members of the ruling Conservative party have demanded the premier give firm deadlines for when Huawei will be blocked from Britain amid concerns its equipment could be used by Chinese spies -- a charge the company denies.

Other members of the company’s U.K. non-executive board include former BT Group Plc chairman Mike Rake, former deputy chair of the Institute of Directors business association Kenneth Olisa, and former U.K. government head of exports Andrew Cahn.

“When Lord Browne became chairman of Huawei U.K.’s board of directors in 2015, he brought with him a wealth of experience which has proved vital in ensuring Huawei’s commitment to corporate governance in the U.K.,” a Huawei spokesman said in an emailed statement. “He has been central to our commitment here dating back 20 years, and we thank him for his valuable contribution.”

Browne’s decision to depart ahead of schedule was reported earlier Tuesday by Sky News.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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