back to article UK govt probes Brit chip biz Imagination after growing Chinese ownership sparks national security fears

British chip designer Imagination Technologies is being investigated by the UK government for national security concerns after its former CEO revealed that the company is being increasingly controlled by China. Imagination was acquired in 2017 by Canyon Bridge, a private equity firm backed by China Reform Holdings, an …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps the Government should set fire to the company

    Rather like burning all those 5G Masts to prevent them from spying on us from China and spread coronavirus?

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Two obvious outcomes

    1. Lessons will be learned.

    2. Next time such a merger is proposed the govt. of the day will approve it.

  3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    Ahhh laissez faire government strikes again (and then wrings hand as reiterates 'lessons will be learnt' - until next time)

  4. nematoad Silver badge
    Stop

    Um...

    " ...by promising to keep the company’s base in Hertfordshire"

    I don't think that the location of the company HQ is what we should be concerned about. More important is the transfer of the the IP and other valuable and possibly sensitive information to the Chinese government.

    1. jonathan keith Silver badge

      Re: Um...

      Damn it! Does that mean the Chinese will have to scrap their plan to move the buildings, brick by brick, to Shenzen? I bet they're furious.

    2. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge

      Transfer of IP

      It's just the normal consequence of small IT company with IPR selling out to big (rich) company. Of course there's a transfer of IP, it's why they bought the company!

      You might want to restrict the sale of a company which is deemed fundamental to national security (not sure that Imagination falls into this category though...), but there's two problems. How do you decide who isn't allowed to buy a company (this year US good, China bad; next year?)? And how do you compensate the entrepreneurs who started the company but now can't cash in?

      Because let's face it, that's the favoured business model (and one employed by Imagination itself in growing its IP portfolio).

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Transfer of IP

        If the company is that vital to national security presumably you nationalise it

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Transfer of IP

        "And how do you compensate the entrepreneurs who started the company but now can't cash in?"

        Isn't the ongoing profitability of the company and a wage/dividends compensation? Selling it just saddles it with debt to the benefit of the seller and usually to the cost of the employees because the new owner wants to recover that debt as quickly as possible. Redundancies as staff functions are "harmonised" ie moved to, the parent company etc.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Um...

      They should be watching personnel changes. The usual mode is to place a lot of Chinese nationals in for a couple of years, them return them to China.

  5. SVV Silver badge

    It is very good that the Secretary of State is intervening

    Hmmmm, I thought "Britain is open for business" as that is what ministers have been saying for years now. Did they not actually think that might mean that people came and bought not only the products but the businesses that make them too? Have they not noticed that a lot the world is now being gobbled up by state owned sovereign wealth funds and investment banks? Maybe after ARM got sold, they might have given the issue a little thought afterwards?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: It is very good that the Secretary of State is intervening

      But ARM got sold to a Japanese con man respected businessman backed by those nice Saudi chappies.

  6. notfred

    "base" is not a legally defined term, I suspect.

    So "keeping the base in ..." means nothing.

    1. TwistedPsycho

      Re: "base" is not a legally defined term, I suspect.

      A base, leasing out all it's office space to other companies, is still a base.

  7. IGotOut Silver badge

    Western Governments. Hypocrisy to the end.

    Those evil commie* bastards are stealing our IP. This wouldn't happen in a capitalist county!

    Now.

    Those evil commie bastards have paid a large amount of money to legally own the IP, we can't allow that.

    *China hasn't been a communist country for a long time. A single party authoritarian country yes. communist? nope.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes... Imagination Technologies...

    The video card manufacturer that refused to do Linux drivers. Even Apple dropped their stuff. Whatever the Chinese want to do with that IP, they have my blessing. They bought it didn't they?

    Also, I'm pretty sure that China has the ability to create their own GPUs. Isn't manufacturing them the hard bit?

    1. Wilseus

      Re: Ah yes... Imagination Technologies...

      I see you have commented as AC. I can understand that, as I wouldn't want to put my real name to such dross either.

  9. IT's getting kinda boring

    Doesn't really matter what it is. If the PHBs can see a fast buck, it'll go offshore as fast as a ferret up a trouser leg.

    There won't be anything left in this country at the rate we're going. What's rather galling is those very same PHBs will then sod off somewhere else (seagull management anyone?) and leave the customers to bitch about poor quality.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't Break Tradition

    ...it's what has made Britain Great! We come up with good ideas but, because it's not cricket to profit from them, we give them away to others who can then sell the fruits of our work back to us. It's happened many times before and will continue to happen. I've little doubt the key breakthroughs with developing vaccines for SARS-Cov-2 will come from UK research, which will be made freely available for the good of humanity, then be patented by some firms just over the pond to ensure we pay heavy licence fees to apply.

    Me, a cynic?

    1. hoola Bronze badge

      Re: Don't Break Tradition

      We have been doing this for years because a toxic mix of short term gains for traders, investors and board members combined with clueless governments just keep saying yet.

      The list of companies that should never have been sold to foreign organisations is endless and makes pitiful reading. The outlook is pretty much that people would sell the grandmother to turn into soap if it meant a few extra £££££.

      It is an endemic cultural problem that will not go away unless a political iron fist comes down and states that Britain is not for sale.

  11. and I

    IBM Move way faster

    Having seen IBM acquisitions 1st hand, they move their own management in during year 2 before any golden handcuffs come off. I'd say the China backed company moved way slower. But took long enough that the Sino-phobia could kick in, stirred up by brown teeth Trump.

  12. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Fiddling about whilst Rome burns/Ye Olde Analogue Systems IMPlode ‽ .

    Re Imagination Technologies Comment policy: "We love comments and appreciate the time that readers spend to share ideas and give feedback. However, all comments are manually moderated and those deemed to be spam or solely promotional will be deleted. We respect your privacy and will not publish your personal details." ..... it would appear that the company's AI prowess depends on and defaults to manual interference making decisions and taking actions on what is to be made more widely known or kept locked down as if a secret for future servering .... or not as the case may be whenever such simple servering is realised and feared future disrupting ‽

    Such a policy though is both counter-productive and self-defeating, for the cans of worms kicked further on down the road just appear somewhere else, and whenever foreign and/or alien, be instantly way beyond their command and control, which is surely a bug and 0day opportunity to be ruthlessly and exhaustively exploited and it has been asked on/of https://www.imgtec.com/blog/taking-the-hyperlane-with-img-a-series/

    “Inside every A-Series, from the smallest to the very largest are eight individual hardware control lanes, each isolated in memory, enabling different tasks to be submitted to the GPU simultaneously, for fully secure GPU multitasking. It means we can have eight completely different workloads and run them simultaneously; it’s a feature that’s unique in the market.“

    Is Imagination Technologies able to assure and ensure in the case of A-Series HyperLane Controls, a minimum of eight completely different workloads running simultaneously as if in a virtual parallel towards or from a mutually beneficial positively reinforced goal/safely secured base/core source …… rather than being busied in tasks which are not entangling nor greater empowering ‽

    Such then surely has one pondering on the relatively easy availability of an Almighty Singularity which enables the extraordinary rendering of completely different pictures for realisation and presentation …… which in its turn opens up a veritable Pandora’s Box of Novel Opportunities and Exploitable Operations attractive to many questionable and unsavoury characters too.

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