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Huawei plans dividends of $10.7b on strong comeback

By MA SI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-20 09:44

A Huawei store in Hengshui, Hebei province. TANG KE/FOR CHINA DAILY

Huawei Technologies Co plans to give its staff 77.1 billion yuan ($10.7 billion) in dividends under its employee stock ownership plan or ESOP, after the Chinese tech company made a strong comeback to the 5G smartphone market.

The dividend will be 1.50 yuan a share, and the payment will be made in March or April, three Huawei employees told China Daily. The company did not respond to requests for confirmation.

Huawei, which is wholly owned by its employees, has about 51.3 billion shares outstanding. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has shares in the firm as a natural person and he also participates in the ESOP, which has been in place since Huawei was set up in 1987 and is implemented through the Union of Huawei Investment and Holding.

Some 142,315 workers were part of the plan as of the end of 2022, according to the firm's earnings report for that year, the latest full-year data that are available as of now.

The dividend plan came after Huawei regained the No 1 spot in China's smartphone market in the first two weeks of 2024, according to a report by research firm Counterpoint.

That marked the first time Huawei recaptured the top spot as the US sanctions imposed on the company since 2019 have continuously eroded its sales share.

Counterpoint said the three reasons behind Huawei's success were its latest Mate 60 sales with Chinese-developed chips, brand loyalty among consumers and the rapid evolution and consumer acceptance of its in-house Harmony OS 4.0 operating system.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association, said Huawei's comeback will cut into Apple's market share in China and also weigh down its domestic peers, especially Honor Device Co Ltd, a spinoff from Huawei, which was formed three years ago.

Zhang Quanyi, a retailer who owns more than 10 smartphone stores in Suqian, Jiangsu province, said Huawei's Mate 60 series smartphones have become the most sought-after product in his stores and almost every consumer who visits his stores enquires first about the series.

Last month, Hu Houkun, Huawei's rotating chairman, said: "After years of hard work, we've managed to weather the storm. And now we're pretty much back on track."

Huawei Technologies Co expected its revenue to hit 700 billion yuan in 2023, after the company made a strong comeback in its smartphone business and saw positive results in diversifying its revenue streams.

If Huawei's expectation comes to pass, that would mark a 9 percent year-on-year increase in revenue from 642.3 billion yuan in 2022, confirming the company's emergence from the effects of US government restrictions over the past four years.

"Our information communications technology infrastructure business (including base stations) has remained solid, and results from our device business (including smartphones) surpassed expectations. Both our digital power and cloud businesses are growing steadily, and our intelligent automotive solutions have become significantly more competitive," Hu had said in January.

According to Hu, hard work has enabled Huawei to not only survive but grow. Nevertheless, it still has serious challenges to contend with. "Geopolitical and economic uncertainties abound, while technology restrictions and trade barriers continue to have an impact on the world. Together, these forces are reshaping business models and the global value chain.

"No matter what changes we see in the external environment, we firmly believe that digital, intelligent and low-carbon transformation will continue to be the predominant development trend around the world."

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