TNM not affected by US-Huawei row—CEO

TNM plc chief executive officer Michiel Buitelaar says the firm is not affected by the row between US government and Huawei, the world’s number one telecommunications supplier and number two phone manufacturer.

Speaking during the Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE)-listed firm’s annual general meeting in Blantyre on Thursday, Buitelaar said besides Huawei being one of their major clients, TNM understands that the row largely dwells on 5G network.

TNM board of directors and shareholders during the AGM

“We are not deploying 5G network in the country, but we are quite aware of the debate and I believe we should not be totally dependent on Huawei. We have a close relationship that we are managing,” he said.

In 2014, TNM plc entered into a $20 million (about K16 billion) deferred payment facility with Huawei Technologies Limited for equipment purchased under its projects, according to information in the company’s 2018 Annual Report.

In May this year, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to let US Treasury Department name Huawei as a national security threat. This meant that it required US companies to receive approval before doing business with the Chinese tech giant.

After the order, major tech companies have cut off their contracts with Huawei. They include Google, which said it could no longer licence its Android operating system for Huawei devices.

But US Treasury Department has granted a temporary licence that will allow software makers to keep updating Huawei products, but even that will only last until next month, according to Business Day.

TNM plc board chairperson George Partridge said the firm’s infrastructure remains the foundation of it’s growth, having already evolved through an optimisation programme and system upgrade of its long-term evolution (LTE) (4G and 4.5G).

He said during the year under review, TNM invested about K19.3 billion into infrastructure, underpinning the firm’s long-term sustainability, particularly in light of the forth industrial revolution.

“Over the past five years, we invested over K70 billion in network infrastructure, which supported the evolution of our network across 2G, 3G, 4G and 4.5G, culminating in the implementation of our converged digital platform in 2017.

“Expansion of our connectivity and coverage footprint with regard to 3G and 4G is ongoing. A primary strategic objective is to create a ubiquities U900 network layer to provide a complete 3G network by 2020,” said Partridge.

He said that during the year under review, the company’s added value of K58.7 billion and earnings per share increased by 27 percent as a result of a strong growth in revenues, improved profitability, cost control and a stable macro-economic environment.

In 2018, the company’s revenue grew by 15 percent to K91.18 billion up from K79.59 billion the prior year while profit after-tax jumped by 27 percent to K16.67 billion from K13.1 billion the previous year.

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