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Huawei is selling off Honor phone business to 'ensure its own survival'

The sale comes as crippling US sanctions take a heavy toll on the Chinese telecom giant.

Honor's View 20 phone, released in 2019, sells in the UK, Europe and other countries outside of Asia.
Angela Lang/CNET

Huawei plans to sell smartphone unit Honor to a consortium of buyers in an effort to ensure its survival amid crippling US sanctions, according to a statement published late on Monday. 

"The acquisition represents a market-driven investment made to save Honor's industry chain," Huawei said in a joint statement released with a group of more than 30 Chinese dealers and agents. 

"It is the best solution to protect the interests of Honor's consumers, channel-sellers, suppliers, partners, and employees."

The sale announcement comes as Huawei's consumer business scrambles to stay afloat following tougher sanctions levelled by the Trump administration on the Chinese company, including measures that take aim at the Chinese telecom giant's global chip supply.  Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but a Reuters report published earlier this month said the deal could fetch more than $15 billion. Once the sale is complete, Huawei will not hold any shares in the new Honor company, Huawei said in a statement. 

Read more: Not just Huawei: A guide to China's biggest and best smartphone makers

Honor is a Huawei sub-brand that sells low-cost smartphones designed for younger consumers within its native China as well as overseas including Europe and South East Asia. The seven-year-old company ships 70 million phones annually, according to the statement. Honor products often depend on Huawei's technology and some Honor phones run on Huawei's cutting-edge Kirin chipsets.

"Huawei's consumer business has been under tremendous pressure as of late," the company said in the statement. "This has been due to a persistent unavailability of technical elements needed for our mobile phone business."

"This move has been made by Honor's industry chain to ensure its own survival," Huawei said.

The purchase will be made by a new company called Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co, according to the joint statement. It was founded by the aforementioned consortium of buyers and a tech enterprise called Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development Group Co, which was formed by the government of the Chinese city of Shenzhen.