Could the US be poised to buy a stake in Nokia and Ericsson?

Published: 8 February 2020 - 5 a.m.

Donald Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, has suggested that the US may be prepared to purchase a controlling interest in telecoms network equipment providers Ericsson and Nokia, in an attempt to dent the 5G market domination of their Chinese rival Huawei.

Huawei invests around $15 billion in research and development every year and has secured more than 65 commercial 5G launch deals with operators around the world.

The US has waged a war of words against the Chinese tech giant in recent months, claiming that Huawei’s network equipment poses a risk to US national security. Huawei vociferously denies these allegations and the US is yet to provide any proof to support its claims.

A report in the Financial Times newspaper, quoted Barr as saying that the US was “actively considering” proposals for “American ownership of a controlling stake” in Huawei’s European rivals (namely Nokia and Ericsson), “either directly or through a consortium of American and allied companies.”

Barr did not provide details of the size of the investment that would be required, but a sizable interest in either company would cost tens of billions of dollars.

Neither Nokia nor Ericsson have commented on the proposed acquisition.

Last year, US President angered Nokia and Ericsson’s Danish neighbours by suggesting that the US was considering buying Greenland, even though Denmark remained adamant that the overseas territory was not for sale.

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