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Huawei is ‘growing astronomically’ despite allegations it spies for China

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The arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer is just the latest controversy to hit the tech giant which has been accused of conducting espionage activities for the Chinese government. 

“We don’t know to what extent they might be considered an arms length business and to what extent they might be simply an arm of the Chinese government,” said David Skillicorn, a professor in Queen’s University School of Computing.

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has been thrust into the spotlight with the arrest of ​Meng Wanzhou, its chief financial officer and deputy chair of the board. According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday and is being sought for extradition by the United States. 

The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday that Meng was arrested on suspicion of violating U.S. trade sanctions on Iran. She has a bail hearing in Canada on Friday.

Meng Wanzhou is Huawei’s deputy chairwoman and CFO. According to reports, she is wanted by the United States for allegedly contravening U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. (fensifuwu.com)

For years, Huawei has been a source of concern for western security officials, particularly the U.S., which has tried to convince other countries not to buy equipment from the China-based firm.

Huawei denies allegations that it conducts espionage on behalf of China and has said it’s a market-driven business simply looking to compete internationally. 

‘Significant network security risk’

Some Canadian security experts have warned Canada about doing business with Huawei, one of the world’s biggest telecommunications firms. Ward Elcock, a former CSIS director and deputy minister of national defence, told  As It Happens host Carol Off in March that he believes the company is “essentially under the control of the Chinese government.”

“It is hard for me to believe that a company such as Huawei would not do the bidding of the Chinese government and would not build traps, back doors into its technology on behalf of the Chinese government,” he said.

Earlier this year, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warning him that doing business with Huawei would open Canada up to huge security risks.

Some companies and governments have taken heed to those warnings. Last month, New Zealand blocked a mobile phone company from using Huawei equipment, saying it posed a “significant network security risk.” Huawei was banned in August from working on Australia’s fifth-generation (5G) network.

On Wednesday, British phone carrier BT said it was removing Huawei equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile phone networks and would not use their equipment for its planned 5G mobile network.

Canada, so far, has resisted those concerns but the government has said it is conducting a national-security review to determine whether Canada should join other Five Eyes partners in banning Huawei from some projects, the Globe and Mail reported.  Five Eyes refers to an intelligence sharing arrangement between Canada, the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand. 

Competitive edge

Huawei’s equipment is used in telecommunications infrastructure run by the country’s major cellphone carriers. The company has struck up partnerships with Canadian universities. BCE and Telus are partnering with Huawei to help roll out their 5G networks

The private Chinese company with 180,000 employees is the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, with over $90 billion US in revenue and $7 billion US in net profits, according to its 2017 annual report.

Just in the last quarter, it became the number two supplier of smartphones globally, said Dave Bolan, a senior telecom analyst at California-based Dell’Oro Group, Inc.

British phone carrier BT said it was removing Huawei equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile phone networks and would not use their equipment for its planned 5G mobile network. (Luis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

The company has said it sells its equipment through 46 of the world’s top 50 carriers. According to its website, its products are used in more than 170 countries and regions, serving over one-third of the world’s population. They are especially strong in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and parts of Europe.

“They’ve been growing astronomically,” Bolan said. “Ten years ago, 15 years ago, we [had] never heard of Huawei.”

Huawei has been proactive in terms of pricing, Skillicorn said, making it difficult for companies and governments to “walk past the deal.”

“They are undercutting the competitors to some extent and making it very hard for governments to explain to voters why they’re not taking what looks like this fabulous deal,” he said. 

One of the security concerns, said Skillicorn, is that the company is a huge maker of network switches. ​

“When you use the network switch it sees absolutely everything that’s happening in your organization. And so you need to be especially careful about who makes those network switches,” he said.

Ties to People’s Liberation Army

Part of the distrust of Huawei stems from perceived ties between the company’s top executives and the Chinese government, said James Lewis, cybersecurity and technology expert for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Huawei’s president, Ren Zhengfei, is a former military engineer for China’sPeople’s Liberation Army. And Sun Yafang, a former chairwoman, used to work for the Ministry of State Security which has close links to China’s intelligence services, Lewis said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) pauses as he is shown around the offices of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd by Ren Zhengfei, president of Huawei. Zhengfei has been accused of having ties to China’s communist party. (Matthew Lloyd/Reuters)

Huawei has denied all accusations that it’s used as a front for Chinese espionage.

Ken Hu, one of Huawei’s three chief executives, said in an interview at the beginning of the year with the Wall Street Journal that the company isn’t a security threat.

Its “global business is testament to the fact that Huawei is not a vehicle for any government or any agency of putting surveillance on another country,” he said.

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Real Estate

Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom

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MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices

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NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Real Estate

Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments

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TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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