Lord Browne, who chaired oil giant BP between 1995 and 2007, will step down from Huawei’s UK board in September after spending five years as the first independent president. His appointment was crucial to the Chinese company’s attempts to allay concerns about its corporate governance and its independence from the Chinese state.
He was due to leave his post next March, but has resigned in recent days and will now leave in September. Huawei declined to comment on the timing of its departure, which was confirmed shortly before the British government announced the possibility of further restricting the use of Huawei equipment in British telecommunications networks.
Lord Browne “brought with him a wealth of experience which has proven to be vital in securing Huawei’s commitment to corporate governance in the UK,” said a Huawei spokesperson.
Sky News first reported on the early release of Lord Browne.
The British government’s plan to remove Huawei equipment from the country’s 5G mobile network marks a major political turnaround following pressure from the administration of Donald Trump and conservative rebel MPs.
A Huawei spokesperson highlighted recent comments at an event in London by the company’s president on the unraveling of international relations between the United Kingdom and China: “The United Kingdom has a very long relationship with China and I hope this is not a relationship that they just threw away. ”
Lord Browne was the main appointment to the board of Huawei UK in 2015, as the Chinese company sought to bring in big names from the city to stem criticism of its business practices and its ties to the Chinese government. Andrew Cahn, the former head of UK Trade & Investment, a government trading body, was also appointed to the board at the time and has since been joined by technology entrepreneur Ken Olisa.
Mike Rake, former president of BT and president of CBI, the industry body, also joined the board of directors – which meets four times a year – in April, after publicly warning of the economic cost and disruptions posed by the crackdown on Huawei technology.
Lord Browne was not immediately available to comment.