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This Asian telco will be standing by Huawei - at least for now

[SINGAPORE] Donald Trump hasn't scared one Asian telco away from Huawei Technologies Co., even as the US president presses home his campaign.

Singapore's M1 Ltd., now controlled by Keppel Corp. and Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., said Tuesday it's open to keep on dealing with the Chinese company, while flagging there'll be alternative providers as operators look to build out their 5G networks.

Huawei Technologies, China's largest technology company, was blacklisted by the US earlier this month amid claims that the group aids Beijing's espionage, with Trump's move cutting it off from the US software and components it needs to make products. The decision both escalated and complicated the trade war between Washington and Beijing, while forcing telecom operators around the world to decide whether they too would shun the company.

M1 will continue to use Huawei if it makes commercial sense, newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Manjot Singh Mann said at an interview on the sidelines of a briefing to map out priorities for the coming years. Fifth-generation services will be "vendor agnostic" as there are multiple players developing equipment, he said.

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Singapore's regulator signaled earlier this year it will let local operators decide for themselves on who to buy telecommunication equipment from, amid the US campaign against Huawei. The trade-dependent Southeast Asian nation has strong ties with both Beijing and Washington, and has made the case that China should have a greater say in shaping global rules.

Outlining his four-step business plan, Mann said he would focus on cutting costs and realizing benefits with Singapore conglomerate Keppel. "There is a good opportunity for us to partner," he said, highlighting opportunities in connectivity, data centers, the Internet of Things and cost management, as well as enterprise business.