US government staff told to treat Huawei as blacklisted

In May, Huawei was added to the so-called Entity List, which bans American firms from selling to it without special permission. (AFP)
Updated 03 July 2019

US government staff told to treat Huawei as blacklisted

  • Donald Trump surprised markets by promising Chinese President Xi Jinping that he would allow US companies to sell products to Huawei
  • In May, the company was added to the so-called Entity List, which bans American firms from selling to it without special permission

WASHINGTON: A senior US official told the Commerce Department’s enforcement staff this week that China’s Huawei should still be treated as blacklisted, days after US President Donald Trump sowed confusion with a vow to ease a ban on sales to the firm.
Trump surprised markets on Saturday by promising Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan that he would allow US companies to sell products to Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
In May, the company was added to the so-called Entity List, which bans American firms from selling to it without special permission, as punishment for actions against US national security interests.
Trump’s announcement on Saturday — an olive branch to Beijing to revive stalled trade talks — was cheered by US chipmakers eager to maintain sales to Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker and a key US customer.
But Trump’s comments also spawned confusion among industry players and government officials struggling to understand what Huawei policy he had unveiled.
In an email to enforcement staff on Monday that was seen by Reuters, John Sonderman, Deputy Director of the Office of Export Enforcement, in the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), sought to clarify how agents should approach license requests by firms seeking approval to sell to Huawei.
All such applications should be considered on merit and flagged with language noting that “This party is on the Entity List. Evaluate the associated license review policy under part 744,” he wrote, citing regulations that include the Entity List and the “presumption of denial” licensing policy that is applied to blacklisted companies.
He added that any further guidance from BIS should also be taken into account when evaluating Huawei-related license applications.
Huawei told Reuters earlier on Wednesday that founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei had said Trump’s statements over the weekend were “good for American companies.”
“Huawei is also willing to continue to buy products from American companies. But we don’t see much impact on what we are currently doing. We will still focus on doing our own job right,” a Huawei spokesman said in an email.
The Commerce Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A person familiar with the matter said the letter was the only guidance that enforcement officials had received after Trump’s surprise announcement on Saturday. A presumption of denial implies strict review and most licenses reviewed under it are not approved.
It is unclear when the Commerce Department will provide its enforcement staff with additional guidance, based on Trump’s promises, and how that might alter the likelihood of obtaining licenses.
The internal memo, not previously reported, came as White House advisers also scrambled to shed light on Trump’s announcement.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro noted on Tuesday that the government would allow “lower tech” chip sales to the company, which don’t impact national security.
The United States has accused Huawei of stealing American intellectual property and violating Iran sanctions.
It has launched a lobbying effort to convince US allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure, citing concerns the company could spy on customers. Huawei has denied the allegations.


Saudi Aramco shares soar at maximum 10% on market debut

Updated 11 December 2019

Saudi Aramco shares soar at maximum 10% on market debut

  • Company is now world’s largest publicly traded company, bigger than Apple

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco shares opened at 35.2 riyals ($9.39) on Wednesday at the Kingdom’s stock exchange, 10 percent above their IPO price of 32 riyals, in their first day of trading following a record $26.5 billion initial public offering.
Aramco has earlier priced its IPO at 32 riyals ($8.53) per share, the high end of the target range, surpassing the $25 billion raised by Chinese retail giant Alibaba in its 2014 Wall Street debut.
Aramco’s earlier indicative debut price was seen at 35.2 riyals, 10 per cent above IPO price, raising the company’s valuation to $1.88 trillion, Refintiv data showed.
At that price, Aramco is world’s most valuable listed company. That’s more than the top five oil companies – Exxon Mobil, Total, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and BP – combined.
“Today Aramco will become the largest listed company in the world and (Tadawul) among the top ten global financial markets,” Sarah Al-Suhaimi, chairwoman of the Saudi Arabian stock exchange, said during a ceremony marking the oil giant’s first day of trading.
“Aramco today is the largest integrated oil and gas company in the world. Before Saudi Arabia was the only shareholder of the company, now there are 5 million shareholders including citizens, residents and investors,” said Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the managing director and chief executive of the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
“Aramco’s IPO will enhance the company’s governance and strengthen its standards.”
Amin Nasser, the president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, meanwhile thanked the new shareholders for their confidence and trust of the oil company.
The sale of 1.5 percent of the firm, or three billion shares, is the bedrock of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious strategy to overhaul the oil-reliant economy.
Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange earlier said it will hold an opening auction for Aramco shares for an hour from 9:30 a.m. followed by continuous trading, with price changes limited to plus or minus 10 percent.

The company said Friday it could exercise a “greenshoe” option, selling additional shares to bring the total raised up to $29.4 billion.
The market launch puts the oil behemoth’s value at $1.7 trillion, far ahead of other firms in the trillion-dollar club, including Apple and Microsoft.
Two-thirds of the shares were offered to institutional investors. Saudi government bodies accounted for 13.2 percent of the institutional tranche, investing around $2.3 billion, according to lead IPO manager Samba Capital.
The IPO is a crucial part of Prince Mohammed’s plan to wean the economy away from oil by pumping funds into megaprojects and non-energy industries such as tourism and entertainment.
Watch the video marking Aramco’s opening trading: