Exclusive: Chinese-backed owners committed to British HQ for Imagination Tech – source

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LONDON (Reuters) – The Chinese-backed owners of Imagination Technologies told the British government on Friday the chip designer would remain headquartered in the United Kingdom and they would consult over any board changes, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of technology company Imagination Technologies is seen on the outskirts of London, Britain, June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Private equity firm Canyon Bridge, which is backed by Chinese state-owned China Reform holdings, also committed to continue to invest in British research, the source said.

Canyon Bridge representatives had a conference call with Britain’s culture minister, Oliver Dowden, on Friday, sources with knowledge of the situation said.

“They confirmed that Imagination Technologies will remain headquartered in the UK,” said a source with knowledge of the discussions.

“The second commitment was that they would maintain dialogue with the Secretary of State on future board appointments,” the source said.

Imagination Technologies, once a jewel in Britain’s technological crown, was bought by Canyon Bridge in 2017.

But British lawmakers recently became concerned that the company could end up being moved out of the United Kingdom when Canyon Bridge tried to appoint its board members, though the crucial board meeting earlier this month was cancelled at the request of the government.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Canyon committed to the majority of Imagination Technologies’ staff remaining in the United Kingdom and to continue investment in research and development and intellectual property development.

“They want to maintain their commitment to the UK economy,” said the source.

Spokesmen for the British government and Canyon Bridge did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

British lawmaker David Davis told Reuters on Tuesday that the government should seek every mechanism to prevent the removal of the technology base of Imagination Technologies to China, including seeking a Western buyer for the company.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle; editing by David Evans and Susan Fenton

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