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Huawei Works With Former Sprint Staff on Contracts

Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co., China’s largest maker of phone equipment, said it’s working with a company started by former employees of Sprint Nextel Corp. to help win contracts with U.S. carriers.

The relationship with Amerilink Telecom Corp. is primarily for consulting services in the U.S., Ross Gan, a spokesman for Shenzhen, China-based Huawei, said today. Amerilink was set up last year, Gan said.

“Huawei’s relations with Amerilink are part of our broader approach to expand our presence in North America and to further enhance our service offerings,” Gan wrote in an e-mail.

Eight Republican U.S. lawmakers last week said in a letter to the Obama administration Huawei’s bid for a contract from Sprint Nextel may undermine national security. Huawei, founded in 1988 by former Chinese army officer Ren Zhengfei, has struggled to expand in the U.S. after more than a decade amid government concern about security risks from Chinese-made phone networks.

The U.S. Treasury Department is reviewing the lawmakers’ letter, said Matt Anderson, a department spokesman. He declined to comment further.

“Generally speaking, we welcome foreign investment, which helps create significant economic benefits and millions of well-paying jobs for American workers,” Anderson said in a telephone interview.

Gan declined to comment on whether the company is bidding for a Sprint Nextel contract to supply equipment.

Huawei’s tie-up with Amerilink was reported earlier today by the Wall Street Journal, which said the Chinese company was the startup’s first customer.

Amerilink, SI Wireless

The relationship with Amerilink began last year when the companies worked together to win a contract from SI Wireless, Gan said. Closely held SI Wireless is based in Mount Vernon, Illinois, and produces third-generation CDMA technology for mobile communications, according to its website.

Amerilink is based in Overland Park, Kansas, where Sprint Nextel is located. The company is a “technology solutions provider,” according to its website.

Huawei in July failed to reach agreements to buy software supplier 2Wire Inc. and Motorola Inc.’s wireless-equipment unit because the sellers doubted Huawei’s ability to win government approval for the purchases, two people with knowledge of the matter said this month.

Huawei said yesterday it’s “deeply committed to long-term investment in North America,” in response to the letter from U.S. senators.

The Chinese company forecasts sales will rise 20 percent this year, after a 19 percent gain to $21.8 billion last year, Gan wrote in another e-mail today.

Amerilink Chief Executive Officer Kevin Packingham was previously senior vice president of product and technology development for Sprint Nextel, according to Amerilink’s website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Edmond Lococo in Beijing at elococo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net

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