Axiata to continue its partnership with Huawei

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite a US-government ban on Huawei, Axiata Group Bhd said it will still be working with Huawei for the 5G Innovation Hub at Celcom’s headquarters in Petaling Jaya Sentral.However, Axiata still has not decided on which company it would like to partner with for an eventual 5G rollout in the future.

“We have committed RM10mil a year to develop new solutions, applications etc relating to 5G (at the 5G Innovation Hub).

“The much bigger issue (is that) so far there has been no impact with regards to Huawei in terms of supply, upgrades, or new rollouts; there are no implications yet,” Axiata president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim (pic) said at a press conference after its AGM yesterday.

“I can’t speak on behalf of Huawei but all I can say what they have told us is that they have one year supply in terms of parts, products and equipment that can serve us very well. Their intention is to be more and more self-reliant,” he added.

He said that hopefully after one year, that they would be completely self reliant or Huawei’s issues with the US government will fully be resolved.

Jamaludin said that Axiata has not decided who would be the supplier for 5G at this moment.

“But frankly, it would be a combination of all. We have Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE or Huawei and potentially Samsung. There are plenty of choices,” he said.

“On when 5G will be rolled out, our plan right now is in 2021. I think this is the earliest at this point in time. But this is also highly dependent on the government’s plan itself as we cannot do it without the government’s approval on spectrum (first),” he added.

Meanwhile, Jamaludin said the proposed merger with Telenor ASA will be a ‘merger of equals’ and despite it eventually holding a smaller 43.5% stake in the merged company (MergedCo) entity.

“If you look from percentage wise yeah it’s factual (that Telenor has the majority stake of 56.5% in the MergedCo).

“But that is not how we agreed for it to be. In fact, had it been say Telenor telling us that they would like to acquire us and to run the MergedCo the way the majority owner would like it to be run: then there is no deal there,” he said.

“If this is the case, the discussions would have stopped a long time ago.

“Right now it is captured in our preliminary agreement as being a merger of equals and we hope to make it a part of the (final agreement),” he added.

Jamaludin said Axiata expects to sign the binding agreement with Telenor for this merger within the next three to six months.

“If all goes well, we expect the birth of the company to happen sometime in the third quarter of next year. It’s a long way to go,” he said.

Jamaludin also said there will be no forced layoffs from a potential merger with Telenor ASA.

“We will not sack anybody because of this.

“There will be no retrenchments but of course for a couple of positions there cannot be two people doing the same position. For example we can’t have two chief financial officers or two chief marketing officers,” Jamaludin said.

“In cases like this, we can offer a voluntary separation scheme. This is only voluntary and not a forced offer. We can also give the person affected a different job or let him be the new (department’s) deputy or we might have opportunities in our group’s other locations that he or she can be relocated to,” he added.


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