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HPE to divest remaining stake in Chinese H3C joint venture.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) intends to sell its stake in China-based H3C, a joint venture with Unisplendour Corporation (a subsidiary of Tsinghua Holdings). She owns 49% of the authorized capital of H3C, and Unisplendour owns the rest. H3C is the exclusive supplier of HPE IT equipment in China, including servers, storage systems, and also provides services related to their technical support. H3C itself is one of the world's largest manufacturers of servers, networking and other equipment.
Unisplendour became the majority owner of H3C in 2015 in a $2.3 billion deal. The deal includes an agreement under which HPE can transfer all remaining H3C shares to Unisplendour in exchange for an amount equivalent to 15 times the company's after-tax earnings for prior 12 months, with a deadline of October 31 last year. HPE extended the terms of the agreement until December 31, but has now decided to exercise the right to sell the stake, as announced in a Form 8-K document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
HPE said that the decision to sell its stake in H3C to Unisplendour has nothing to do with heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington. “With the expiration of our financial put option, it is time for us to change the financial structure of our partnership with H3C at a time when the entire IT industry is changing rapidly,” HPE said, emphasizing that the company intends to continue to cooperate with H3C.
However, one should take into account the fact that one of the H3C enterprises - New H3C Semiconductor Technologies Co. Ltd - was added by the US in November 2021 to the "black" list of the Entity List, which requires US companies to obtain a special license to export or transfer technologies to it. Analysts at Omdia noted that HPE's decision is in line with the trend of global companies reducing investment in China over the past few months: "Berkshire Hathaway is reducing its stake in BYD, Softbank is reducing its stake in Alibaba, and Naspers is reducing its stake in Tencent."
It is also noted that the Chinese government insists on using its own technologies in enterprise solutions, and the H3C portfolio has many servers with Loongson, Phytium, Hygon and Zhaoxin CPUs. This may create a conflict of interest for HPE in the current geopolitical situation and encourage it to end its partnership with the Chinese company. The company also repeatedly tried to enter the Russian market.