Imagination Technologies sold to CBFI Investment Limited

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.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    Canyon Bridge Capital Partners.

    Holy crap those Chinese firms are sounding more and more like western firms.

    • Duct Tape Dude
    • 2 years ago

    Someday we’ll read about an acquisition by an investment firm based in not-China. Today is not that day.

      • meerkt
      • 2 years ago

      [url<]https://techreport.com/news/17555/globalfoundries-co-owner-to-buy-chartered-semiconductor[/url<]

      • blastdoor
      • 2 years ago

      What a biazrre comment.

      How about the Bain-orchestrated deal to buy Toshiba’s flash business?

        • AMDisDEC
        • 2 years ago

        The comment is right and it’s your mind who convoluted it’s meaning.
        The Bain deal is private equity for profit, but China’s deals are a part of a well orchestrated infrastructural strategy that has more meaningful goals than Bain’s Wall street “hit and profit” business plan.

        If I were an Investor or employee of a company being bid for by China and Bain, I’d hope that China won the deal instead of Bain because where Bain is looking to make a quick buck, China is more likely to dump billions into the business for expansion.

    • AMDisDEC
    • 2 years ago

    They should have allowed them to take all the MIPS IP too.
    I mean, they already have MIPS licenses and have made so many improvements to it that a supercomputer based on it is in the top 3.
    It’s not as if the Wall street private equity drones are going to make any significant enhancement to MIPS, so give it to the Chinese who will.

      • nanoflower
      • 2 years ago

      Maybe the issue isn’t that the US govt. is forcing Imagination to sell off MIPS but that Canyon Bridge has no interest in that side of the business?

        • AMDisDEC
        • 2 years ago

        Imagination is a UK based company, which probably explains why they failed to leverage the MIPS IP effectively.

          • frenchy2k1
          • 2 years ago

          RM is also a UK company, and they have leveraged their own IP fairly well…

        • AMDisDEC
        • 2 years ago

        I’m also interested in how the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) can dictate to UK companies?

          • frenchy2k1
          • 2 years ago

          The same way that the European Union weights in on US firms mergers.
          If you operate into a market, its regulators have power of law over you.

    • chuckula
    • 2 years ago

    Who wants to start a GoFundMe to buy out MIPS?!?!?

      • nanoflower
      • 2 years ago

      I do! Always kind of liked their chips. Will a $1 go far to purchasing it?

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        I offer tree.fiddy

          • NTMBK
          • 2 years ago

          And my axe!

    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    What a swift fall.

    So cheap too, I would have thought Sammy or Google (now trying to make their own SoC) would have been all over that even if only for patent power.

    What I don’t get is if they didn’t see it coming miles off, even before Apples 1 year notice, as the GPU cores were already increasingly Apple-custom. David Kanter I believe said it was about 2/3rds Apple IP already by the A10/iPhone 7.

      • crystall
      • 2 years ago

      [quote<]What I don't get is if they didn't see it coming miles off, even before Apples 1 year notice, as the GPU cores were already increasingly Apple-custom. David Kanter I believe said it was about 2/3rds Apple IP already by the A10/iPhone 7.[/quote<] None of the previous GPUs were customized, in only one case Apple shipped with a GPU that used a design in a configuration that was not directly sold by ImgTec but was still theoretically possible. In fact considering the description and feature set of the iPhone 8 GPU is almost identical to that of a PowerVR there's a good chance there's still plenty of ImgTec IP in there.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        Not so. Have a read here:

        [url<]https://www.realworldtech.com/apple-custom-gpu/[/url<] The GPU cores were extensively customized. Shader cores replaced, FP16 'free' conversion, etc. PowerVRs standard core was pretty much just the front end at this point.

          • crystall
          • 2 years ago

          None of those features are custom, they were already supported in that particular PowerVR design, see:

          [url<]https://www.realworldtech.com/forum/?threadid=162028&curpostid=162423[/url<] [url<]https://www.realworldtech.com/forum/?threadid=162028&curpostid=162397[/url<] David Kanter was wrong on this one.

      • LoneWolf15
      • 2 years ago

      Sammy has enough chip design (Exynos)…but Google…that’d be interesting.

        • frenchy2k1
        • 2 years ago

        Exynos are all ARM based, both CPU cores, GPU and interconnect. They had used imagination’s GPU in the past, but not recently (past 3 years).
        Same for MediaTech.
        Fewer and fewer companies were using Imagination’s IP beside Apple and none wanted to change. This was the biggest reason for their downfall. They had a single, huge customer and asked for a ridiculous sum when Apple wanted to buy them.

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