Ericsson’s Chief Executive Officer Borje Ekholm pressured a Swedish minister to reverse a ban on including Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. in the country’s 5G roll-out, Bloomberg reported, citing reports by local media Dagens Nyheter.
Ekholm lobbied Foreign Trade Minister Anna Hallberg in a series of phone messages to review an order by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) that operators remove the Chinese companies from existing infrastructure used for 5G frequencies by January 2025, the Swedish newspaper reported.
An Ericsson spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg that Ekholm was in contact with the minister.
Hallberg told DN that she had not had any contact with PTS and would never step in as minister and influence the decisions of individual authorities. She added that she didn’t meet with Ekholm at any point.
The exchange follows comments by Jacob Wallenberg, deputy chair of Ericsson’s board of directors, who said that “stopping Huawei is definitely not good,” according to an interview in the same newspaper done previously.
A person familiar with the matter told TheElec that Ericsson’s reaction was highly unusual. The move likely stems from the fact that Ericsson may be pushed out of China if the Swedish government excludes Huawei in its 5G market.
While rival Nokia was practically excluded in China’s 5G roll out last year, Ericsson controlled around 10% market share there.
In the third quarter, Ericsson saw sales rise 30% in Northeast Asia, largely in part from its participation in China’s 5G roll out.
Last month, Ericsson filed lawsuits against Samsung, claiming the latter violated FRAND principles in their contract negotiations.
The pair signed a cross-licensing agreement in 2014. The pair differed in how they calculated the balancing payment to each other. Ericsson claimed Samsung attempted to pay unreasonably low rate below FRAND rates.