Chinese Communist Party Tries To Muscle In On Pure Radio Chip Partner
Pure Radios are currently selling “extremly well” in Australia due in part to the COVID-19 lockdown, but at the heart of the Pure product is a UK digital radio chipset from Imagination Technology and it is this Company, that has attracted the attention of the Chinese Communist Government.
At the heart of a lot of digital radio’s is a processor developed by UK based Imagination Technology the Company who invented digital radio, now the Chinese Communist Government is trying to aid a Chinese Company to shift Imagination Technology IP to China.
Late last year Apple moved to cement a new relationship with Imagination Technology after walking away from the Company in 2017.
Back then Imagination Technologies was purchased by China linked private equity firm Canyon Bridge, for $1.07 billion their intent was to list the Company.
Earlier this month Canyon Bridge tried to appoint four new directors from one of its partners, China Reform Holdings, a Chinese government investment fund, to the Imagination board.
The move led to the departure of Imagination’s chief executive, Ron Black, and the intervention of the UK government after claims that Communist Party linked China Reform would have control of the board and move Imagination’s intellectual property to China claims the UK Financial Review.
In Australia the Pure audio product that was initially owned by Imagination Technology is one of the leading radio products on sale at retailers, only this week The Good Guys placed a “big new order” for their products with a Good Guys store manager telling ChannelNews that demand for digital radios are surging.
One reason is that most new motor vehicles today have DAB radio and consumers are looking to get access to the same DAB channels at home according to
Ray Bingham, acting chief executive of Imagination Technologies acknowledged that the appointment of the new board directors had proved to be “not a good idea for a number of reasons”.
But he added that the accusations had been “quite wild” and that there was “no need” to transfer Imagination’s technology to China.
“IP moves around the world by licensing it,” he said, and added that he had committed to keeping Imagination’s headquarters in the UK to the British government.
Mr Bingham said the company now has to replace Mr Black who he said had grown frustrated over the lack of capital available for Imagination’s research and development programs.
“The CEO became quite frustrated at the pace we were moving. That became a real sticking point,” he said. Canyon Bridge has invested $50m into Imagination since it acquired the business, he said, including the losses it took on.
Mr Bingham said new Chinese nationals were set to be appointed to the board however he did insist that they would be independent of China Reform.
He claimed that Canyon Bridge had more work to do to “dissipate this fear, uncertainty and doubt” about the ownership of Imagination.
He said China Reform which is a Chinese Government entity provided about a third of Canyon Bridge’s funding
Imagination, which designed graphic processors, grew from a tiny electronics business into a company that was at one-point worth more than £1bn. A third of the world’s smartphones use its designs but its value collapsed after it lost Apple, which had a stake in the business, as a customer in 2017.