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Imagination Tech, Spurned by Apple, Now Up for Sale
By Shirley Siluk
Posted: June 22, 2017 10:52am PDT

In addition to providing around half of the company's sales revenues, Apple is also a part-owner of Imagination, holding about 8.5 percent of the company's shares.

After being spurned in April by Apple -- its main customer -- UK-based graphics chipmaker Imagination Technologies put itself up for sale today. Imagination Tech announced that over the past few weeks it has seen interest from a number of potential buyers for its entire organization and it has now launched a formal sale process. The company had already started sales proceedings for two separate parts of the business in May.

Apple had used Imagination's system-on-chip (SoC) technology in its devices for years, and its business had grown to account for around half of the chipmaker's revenues. Following the news in early April that Apple planned to make its own multimedia processors and phase out its use of Imagination's SoCs, the U.K. company's share prices collapsed by nearly 70 percent and have now only recovered some of their value.

Two Divisions Already Up for Offer

Under a dispensation Imagination Technologies received from the UK Takeover Panel, interested buyers will not have to publicly disclose their identities, the company said in a statement today. Additionally, potential bidders, who will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement, should contact the company's financial advisor, Rothschild, the firm added.

Meanwhile, the company's dispute with Apple over changes in their commercial relationship continues. Imagination Technologies announced its formal pursuit of a dispute resolution procedure with Apple on May 4, the same day it revealed its plans to sell its MIPS and Ensigma businesses.

The company is divided into three major divisions: MIPS, which produces low-power CPUs for mobile devices, wearables and Internet of Things devices; Ensigma, which offers technologies for wireless IP connectivity; and PowerVR, its graphics processor (GPU) division.

"Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination's technology, without violating Imagination's patents, intellectual property and confidential information," Imagination said in an April 3 statement after Apple's decision was made public. "This evidence has been requested by Imagination but Apple has declined to provide it."

The company added, "Further, Imagination believes that it would be extremely challenging to design a brand new GPU architecture from basics without infringing its intellectual property rights, accordingly Imagination does not accept Apple's assertions."

Apple Among Potential Buyers?

Established in 1985, Imagination Technologies could now see a variety of potential buyers, including other chipmaking giants such as Intel and Qualcomm. Patrick Moorhead, founder, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, noted in April that Google, Microsoft, or Samsung might also make a play for acquisition. A report in Reuters today noted that "Apple itself could be interested."

In addition to providing around half of the company's sales revenues, Apple is also part owner of Imagination, holding about 8.5 percent of the company's shares.

In a tweet this morning, Moorhead noted, "Two sides of the coin to being an Apple supplier. What goes up will likely come down. When it does it can be ugly." And ARK Invest analyst James Wang also took to Twitter today, commenting, "Having Apple as your #1 customer is wonderful . . . until it's not."

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