ZTE Poaching Staff from Blackberry and Motorola

ZTE, China’s largest listed telecoms equipment company is poaching talent from struggling Western smartphone makers such as BlackBerry and Motorola Mobility, as it tries to expand its handset business overseas.

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ZTE plans to expand its terminal services to account for 50% of its revenues within three years, up from 29% in 2013, said Zeng Xuezhong, ZTE executive vice president.

ZTE has already recruited about 20 individuals, but they aren’t done just yet, sources said. They have even created a special department inside Human Resources dedicated to recruiting these individuals. This is supposedly a part of the company’s plans for expanding outside of China. Most of the new hires from BlackBerry, which include senior engineers, were currently based in Canada, but they may later move to the US or China to play greater roles for ZTE, sources said.

In the past, it would have been difficult for ZTE to be able to grab talent from two of the biggest manufacturers, Blackberry and Motorola, but with both of them in financial trouble – Blackberry more than Motorola – it seems like the perfect time to grab some new talent. “We hope the talent from BlackBerry can enhance our product security and design capability“, said Adam Zeng who is head of ZTE’s mobile devices division. ZTE has put an emphasis on those with an international background to help the company expand into North America, which they’ve been trying to do for a few years now.

Apart from the new hires from BlackBerry, ZTE recently recruited Cao Teng, an executive in charge of handset marketing, from Motorola Mobility.

ZTE’s hiring spree comes as major Chinese smartphone makers are trying to expand globally, while some Western competitors are moving away from handset businesses.

In January, Chinese personal-computer maker Lenovo agreed to buy Motorola Mobility from Google for $US2.91 billion ($3bn).

Before announcing the Motorola deal, Lenovo had also considered buying BlackBerry.

BlackBerry laid off as much as 40 per cent of its workforce last year as part of its efforts to turn around its unprofitable business.

“To expand in North America, we need more people with international background,” a ZTE spokesman said.

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