T-Mobile, Sprint see Huawei shun clinching US deal -sources

Lisa Duan, a visitor from China, holds a sign in support of Huawei outside of the B.C. Supreme Court bail hearing of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is being held on an extradition warrant in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (File Photo/Reuters)
Updated 16 December 2018
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T-Mobile, Sprint see Huawei shun clinching US deal -sources

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. believe their foreign owners’ offer to stop using Huawei Technologies equipment will help with the United States clearing their $26 billion merger deal, sources said, underscoring the lengths to which Washington has gone to shut out the Chinese company.
Like all major US wireless carriers, T-Mobile and Sprint do not use Huawei equipment, but their majority owners, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG and Japan’s SoftBank Group Ltd, respectively, use some Huawei gear in overseas markets.
People familiar with the deal between T-Mobile and Sprint, the third and fourth largest US wireless carriers, said US government officials had been pressuring Deutsche Telekom to stop using Huawei equipment, and the companies believed they had to comply before a US national security panel would let them move forward on their deal.
Both Deutsche Telekom and Softbank were reported this week to be seeking to replace the world’s biggest network equipment maker as vendor. Now, T-Mobile and Sprint expect the US panel, called Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), to approve their deal as early as next week, the sources said.
The sources, however, cautioned that negotiations between the two companies and the US government have not been finalized yet, and any deal could still fall through. They asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.
Sprint, T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, SoftBank and CFIUS declined to comment. Huawei did not respond to a request for comment.
The US government and its allies have stepped up pressure on Huawei over concerns that the company is effectively controlled by the Chinese state and its network equipment may contain “back doors” that could enable cyber espionage, something which Huawei denies. Several telecom operators in Europe and Australia have said they will exclude the Chinese firm from their fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks.
The pressure on Huawei has already heightened tensions between the United States and China over trade. Earlier this month Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its billionaire founder, was arrested in Canada on a US extradition request. US prosecutors have accused her of misleading multinational banks about Huawei’s control of a company operating in Iran. China has asked for her release.
In an interview with Reuters earlier this week, US President Donald Trump drew a connection between the Huawei CFO extradition case and his administration’s trade row with China, saying he would be willing to intervene if it helped resolve the dispute or serve US national security interests.
The United States has been stepping up its targeting this year of both Huawei and ZTE, China’s second-largest maker of telecommunications equipment. Last March, Trump blocked chip maker Broadcom Ltd’s attempted $120 billion takeover of US peer Qualcomm Inc. over concerns the deal could boost Huawei’s competitive position.
ZTE was crippled in April when the United States banned American firms from selling it parts, saying the company broke an agreement to discipline executives who had conspired to evade US sanctions on Iran and North Korea.
The ban, which became a source of friction in Sino-US trade talks, was lifted in July after ZTE paid $1.4 billion in penalties, allowing the firm to resume business.
SoftBank plans to replace 4G network equipment from Huawei with hardware from Nokia and Ericsson, Nikkei reported on Thursday, without citing sources.
Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s largest telecoms company, on Friday said it was reviewing its vendor plans in Germany and other European markets where it operates, given the debate on the security of Chinese network gear.
The Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission must also approve T-Mobile’s and Sprint’s merger. T-Mobile previously said it expected the deal to close in the first half of 2019.


US economists less optimistic, see slower growth: survey

Updated 25 March 2019
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US economists less optimistic, see slower growth: survey

  • While the odds of a US recession by 2020 remain low, they are rising
  • The odds of a recession starting in 2019 is at around 20 percent, and for 2020 at 35 percent

WASHINGTON: US economists are less optimistic about the outlook and sharply lowered their growth forecasts for this year, amid slowing global growth and continued trade frictions, according to a survey published Monday.
And while the odds of a recession by 2020 remain low, they are rising, the National Association for Business Economics said in their quarterly report.
The panel of 55 economists now believe “the US economy has reached an inflection point,” said NABE President Kevin Swift.
The consensus forecast for real GDP growth was cut by three tenths from the December survey, to 2.4 percent after 2.9 percent expansion in 2018.
The economy is expected to slow further in 2020, with growth of just 2 percent, the report said.
Three-quarters of respondents cut their GDP forecasts and believe the risks of to the economy are weighted to the downside.
“A majority of panelists sees external headwinds from trade policy and slower global growth as the primary downside risks to growth,” NABE survey chair Gregory Daco said in a statement.
“Nonetheless, recession risks are still perceived to be low in the near term.”
Panelists put the odds of a recession starting in 2019 at around 20 percent, and for 2020 at 35 percent, slightly higher than in December.
Daco said that “reflects the Federal Reserve’s dovish policy U-turn in January” when the central bank said it would keep interest rates where they are for the foreseeable future, a message reinforced this week.
After four rate increases last year, Daco said a “near-majority of panelists anticipates only one more interest rate hike in this cycle compared to the three hikes forecasted in the December survey.”
Panelists see wage growth as the biggest upside risk to the economy, despite expected increase of just 3 percent this year, as inflation holds right around the Fed’s 2 percent target.
Meanwhile, amid President Donald Trump’s aggressive tariff policies, the panel projects the trade deficit will rise to a record $978 billion this year, beating last year’s record $914 billion.
In an interesting twist in the survey, only 20 percent said they expected to see the dreaded “inverted yield curve” — when the interest rate on the 10-year Treasury note falls below the 3-month bill — this year.
In fact, the yield curve inverted on Friday for the first time since 2007.