Golden Globe Nominations, Ireland Abortion, Trump Golf Club: Broadsheet December 7


CFO in custody

. Stock markets across the globe plummeted yesterday—the FTSE 100, for instance, had its worst decline since the U.K.’s Brexit vote. What caused the global tumble? According to some analysts it came down the circumstance of one woman: Meng Wanzhou, CFO of China-based Huawei.

Meng, reportedly in her late 40s, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 as she changed planes at the airport there. She was detained at the request of U.S. authorities who want her in connection with Huawei’s alleged violation of sanctions with Iran. China has demanded her release and accused the U.S. and Canada of violating her human rights. News of her arrest late Wednesday seemed to signal an escalation in tensions between China and the U.S, even after their stated trade war truce, and markets ran scared.

It’s important to know that this isn’t the U.S.’s first tangle with the Chinese tech behemoth. The U.S. has long suspected Huawei of posing a security threat, alleging that its equipment could be used for spying by the Chinese government and warning its allies to be wary of the firm. Huawei has denied these claims.

Huawei is notoriously secretive but Meng has, in recent years, emerged as one of its few public faces. She’s the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army, who in 1987 founded the company that’s since grown into a giant telecoms supplier.

Though she started as a receptionist at Huawei in 1993, rising through the ranks, Meng made a sort of public debut in 2013 as the firm’s newly-appointed CFO, presenting financial information to the media. (The company is private but reports some annual results to investors.) At the time, she revealed to Chinese media the rather intimate detail that the bond with her father had evolved from warm to businesslike as Huawei ballooned in size.

But perhaps the most intriguing thing about Meng’s tenure at the firm is that Huawei watchers had pegged her as a CEO successor to her 74-year-old father, given her CFO role overseeing the company’s finances—including $47.2 billion in revenue in the first half of this year. Fueling the rumors was Meng’s appointment this year as Huawei deputy chairwoman, a move that put her alongside three rotating chairmen who all have bid to follow Ren as chief executive.

Ren himself tried to dispel that speculation, telling employees that his successor would not be a relative. In a 2016 speech, Meng touted Huawei’s meritocracy. “It’s not a competition who your father and mother are,” she said.

Her future—as Huawei’s next CEO or not—is now uncertain as she remains in Canadian custody. Huawei has said it’s not aware of any wrongdoing by Meng and that its systems comply with current regulations. She faces a bail hearing today.

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Golden Globe Nominations, Ireland Abortion, Trump Golf Club: Broadsheet December 7
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