BEIJING (Reuters) - Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] said Thursday it will open a new research institute in Brussels as it expands its footprint in Europe, an increasingly important market for the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker.
The new European Research Institute will serve as a hub overseeing the company's 18 European research and development sites as well as carry out research in 5G telecom technology with European partners, it said.
In recent years Huawei executives, including founder Ren Zhengfei, have detailed a strategy shift away from the United States - where political sensitivities over cybersecurity have hampered the Chinese firm - and towards Europe, a growth market where customers such as Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Vodafone are expected to spend heavily.
Sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa grew 20 percent in 2014 to 101 billion yuan ($16.27 billion), far higher than any region except China, where sales grew 31 percent, according to the privately-held company's published results.
European governments have proved more friendly to Shenzhen-based Huawei, which pledged last year to double its number of research and development employees in the continent to 1,700. The company currently runs 5G research divisions in Surrey, England and Munich, Germany, among other locations.
Huawei declined to disclose the amount invested in the new institute, but rotating chief executive Guo Ping said in a statement the company viewed Europe as a "favorable industrial environment" and would strengthen its cooperation with European industry and academia.
(Reporting by Gerry Shih, editing by David Evans)