Imagination Technologies sold to CBFI Investment Limited


— 10:30 AM on September 25, 2017

Apple threw Imagination Technologies into a tailspin when it announced in April that it would no longer use the British graphics chip designer's PowerVR GPU designs in the proprietary SoCs inside iOS devices. The Cupertino-based company was Imagination's biggest customer until it decided to develop its own GPUs. The mobile graphics design firm then announced in June that it was up for sale. CBFI Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Chinese investment firm Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, has now acquired Imagination Technologies for approximately £550 million—equivalent to around $750 million.

The purchase requires that Imagination sells off its US-based MIPS chip design subsidiary. Imagination purchased MIPS in 2013 for $100 million, in an effort to create chips that could compete against the hordes of SoCs based on ARM's architectures. The company says it has agreed to sell MIPS to Tallwood Venture Capital for $65 million. Tallwood is an investment firm with offices in Palo Alto, CA and Wuxi, China. Imagination announced that it has no plans to cut jobs as a result of the acquisition.

President Trump's position on the MIPS sale has yet to be seen. Donald Trump blocked Canyon Bridge from purchasing US-based chip designer Lattice Semiconductor for $1.3 billion just last week, citing national security concerns. Lattice designs field-programmable gate array chips that can be reprogrammed to perform different tasks. According to Reuters, the US military doesn't buy Lattice's chips, but does purchase chips from Lattice competitors Xilinx and and Intel subsidiary Altera.

The blocked sale represents only the fourth time in the last 25 years that a US president has blocked the sale of a company to a foreign investor for security reasons. According to Reuters, Canyon Bridge was founded with funds from the Chinese central government and is linked indirectly to the country's space program.

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