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Huawei hires ex-UK info chief as global cyber security

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Huawei Technologies Co Ltd said it has appointed a former British government information official as global cyber-security officer, as the world's second-largest network equipment maker aims to expand its footprint with more global hires.

Shenzhen-based Huawei, which with annual revenue of $28 billion is fast catching up with global No.1 telecommunications equipment maker Ericsson, has been stepping up foreign appointments in recent years.

The latest hire, John Suffolk, is a former chief information officer of the British government and will assume his role at Huawei from October 1, tasked with refining the company's cyber-security systems.

He would be based in the company's Shenzhen headquarters, reporting directly to founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei, Huawei said.

"They want to increase their share of overseas markets," said CLSA analyst Elinor Leung in Hong Kong. "Maybe perceptions are something they need to change in order to expand their market share further."

Like smaller Chinese rival ZTE Corp, Huawei is aggressively tapping the consumer devices sector with smartphones and tablet PCs as a key engine for revenue growth.

The company has been actively hiring foreign executives, including former government officials and industry figures, in various parts of the company including senior positions and research and development to achieve its global ambitions.

In 2009, it hired Matt Bross, former BT Group Plc chief technology officer, as its own CTO. Last year, it appointed ex-Nortel CTO John Roese as a senior vice-president for Huawei North America R&D.

It has struggled with some deals, especially in the United States, where some lawmakers are wary of national security issues, because of Ren's connections with the military as a former People's Liberation Army officer, analysts said.

Earlier this year, Huawei backed away from its acquisition of U.S. server technology company 3Leaf's assets, bowing to pressure from a U.S. government panel that had suggested it should divest the assets.

"Telecommunications networks are always a security concern for governments, so they are careful in terms of choosing equipment vendors. It's not just in the United States or Britain; the Indian government also has restrictions before they acquire equipment from China."

(Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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