Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm (pictured) reportedly lobbied Sweden’s minister for foreign trade to help overturn a ban on the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment in local operator 5G networks.

The revelation came by way of the publication of a series of text messages sent by Ekholm to Sweden’s minster for foreign trade Anna Hallberg in newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

In the messages, Ekholm reportedly made veiled threats about his company’s future presence in its home market if the ban went ahead.

The executive’s view on the restrictions imposed by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) in October 2020 has been no secret, with several public statements supporting the ideals of free competition and trade across global markets.

In early December, Ekholm warned the impact of bans on specific vendors also carried a risk of fragmenting the 5G market and hampering innovation.

Under rules outlined by PTS operators must phase out existing ZTE and Huawei equipment by the start of 2025.

Prior to Sweden’s announcement, and as speculation was mounting on the role of China’s vendors in 5G rollouts in various European countries, rumours emerged raising the possibility of similar action by authorities in China against Nokia and Ericsson. However, these were later denied by authorities in the country.

Ericsson has a significant presence in China and will be keen to keep the country onside, having won 5G contracts with all three Chinese operators and establishing manufacturing and R&D centres in the region.