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Lord Browne to head Huawei’s UK board

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Huawei has recruited former BP chief executive Lord Browne to head a UK board of directors that will oversee British operations in the latest attempt by the Chinese technology group to dispel international concerns over its corporate governance.

Lord Browne of Madingley will become the first independent chairman of Huawei's UK business. Dame Helen Alexander, chairman of UBM and former president of the Confederation of British Industry, and Sir Andrew Cahn, the former head of UK Trade & Investment, will also serve as non-executive directors to the board.

Ken Hu, deputy chairman of the Huawei group board and one of three rotating chief executives, said this was "the latest illustration of Huawei's commitment to openness and transparency and to continuing to build relationships of trust in the UK and across the world".

Huawei's ownership structure and operations have come under the spotlight following concerns raised in a US congressional report in 2012 about alleged links with the Chinese government.

Ren Zhengfei, Huawei founder and a former People's Liberation Army officer, has repeatedly denied any links to the state.

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Lord Browne, former BP chief executive, was until recently the government's lead non-executive adviser to the civil service, a position he took up in 2010. He is a partner of Riverstone Holdings, a private equity group, and vice-chairman of Nomura International.

"I have worked in China and with Chinese businesses for the past 40 years," Lord Browne said, "and continue to be impressed by the corporate sector's ambition and potential. I am delighted to be leading this board as it supports Huawei's next phase of growth."

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While Huawei has been blocked from some deals supplying telecoms equipment in the US and Australia, the British government has welcomed the Chinese group, which supplies network infrastructure to BT as well as to mobile phone network operators in the UK.

Two years ago, David Cameron, UK prime minister, met Mr Ren after the group pledged to invest £1.3 billion and create 500 jobs in the UK. Huawei said it wants to double its workforce in the UK to 1,000 people within three years.

The revamped UK board will be responsible for reviewing the performance of Huawei's operations, and providing counsel to the management team as well as the standard legal obligations of directors of a UK limited liability company.

Huawei's UK business will also have three executive directors assigned from its group board: chief executive Ken Hu, Chen Lifang, senior vice-president, and Gordon Luo, chief executive of Huawei UK.

The company previously had an advisory body — which had no legal responsibility — headed by Sir Andrew Cahn. The advisory board was ended last year.

Sir Andrew said: "I am very pleased to continue my association with Huawei; it is just the sort of global, ambitious company that we need to invest in the UK."