Huawei CEO says his son and daughter don’t have what it takes to succeed him

Sorry, kids. You just don’t cut it.
Sorry, kids. You just don’t cut it.
Image: AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky
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The family members of Huawei Technologies CEO Ren Zhengfei apparently don’t have vision, character or ambition. That’s why Ren said none of them will become the next CEO of the Chinese telecom equipment maker. It’s a surprising acknowledgement in the world of company founders, who often make their offspring their heir apparent.

Ren’s son and daughter do work at Huawei, but they aren’t a part of the rotating executives who are doing six-month stints as acting CEO of the company. That group includes men who are not related to Ren, including deputy chairmen Ken Hu and Guo Ping, and vice president Eric Xu. One of them will likely become the next head of Huawei. Ren, who is 68 and founded Huawei more than 25 years ago, has said he wants to step down as CEO in the near future.

“Huawei’s successor should not only have vision, character and ambition, like what we’ve said before, but also a good global perspective and the acumen to drive the business,” Ren said in a letter to employees sent yesterday. “My family members do not possess these qualities. Thus, we will never be in the running of the successor race.”

It’s that kind of straightforward talk that helped Ren build Huawei into one of the largest telecom equipment and smartphone makers in the world. Ren also said in the letter that Huawei would not go public in the next 5-10 years, saying an IPO is not needed for the company’s growth.

One region where Huawei has faced special difficulties is the US, where politicians have expressed national security concerns about Huawei entering the US market. Because of those hurdles, Huawei executives say the US is no longer a priority for the company.

By not relying on his children or other relatives to succeed him, Ren may avoid the family feuds that have engulfed other company founders. One of the most ugly battles involves Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun Hee, who is one of the sons of Samsung Group founder Lee Byung Chull. Five relatives have sued him for bigger stakes in the company. In December, Lee Kun Hee appointed his son as vice chairman, which means he will likely be the next head of the company.