Opinion: China has had its way with Imagination

May 12, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Opinion: China has had its way with Imagination
"It all happened so fast. I was distracted by the pandemic." Did we just witness the mugging of another UK intellectual property company?

A few weeks ago, the then CEO of IP licensor Imagination Technologies Ltd., Ron Black, was blowing a whistle indicating that Imagination's owner Canyon Bridge – and the Chinese money behind it – were planning to move Imagination's headquarters and IP to China. It was clearly something with which he and other C-level executives were not happy (see Imagination's senior executives quit over potential Chinese coup).

When contacted by the press a few UK politicians blustered about how it was unacceptable and demanded answers to questions. Canyon Bridge partner and Imagination chairman Ray Bingham took up the CEO post on an interim basis and promised Imagination would remain headquartered in the UK (see Imagination to stay based in UK, owner promises).

And now, a month later, we find Imagination has agreed to invest in a joint venture with BAIC Group Industrial Investment Co. Ltd., the investment arm of Beijing Automotive Group (see Imagination forms Chinese automotive joint venture). With the latest news it appears that the vehicle by which Imagination will go to market in the automotive sector is going to be headquartered not in Kings Langley, England, but in a technology hub in the Haidian district of Beijing, China.

Imagination's share in the JV or even whether it is major or minor has not been revealed

[Imagination has subsequently revealed it is a minority shareholder in the joint venture and given its own perspective here Imagination: We're engaged with China, as we should be -- PDC]

"Part of the deal structure is essentially like an IP license and of course that's an area where we tend to be careful about what we reveal, as it's commercially sensitive," an Imagination spokesperson told eeNews Europe. But as well as being commercially sensitive, whether that stake is major or minor is key.

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