Tuesday 24 August 2021 11:17 am

Imagination Technologies cashes in on chip demand amid China tech row

British semiconductor firm Imagination Technologies has posted a surge in revenue as a raging global chip shortage helped boost demand for its products.

The company, which is based in Hertfordshire but owned by a Chinese private equity fund, reported a 55 per cent rise in revenue to $76m (£55m) in the first half of the year.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation grew by $20m to $17m over the same period, while profit margin increased to 22 per cent.

Imagination said it now expected full-year revenue growth of 25 per cent thanks to a “robust” pipeline of sales opportunities.

The firm, which specialises in chip technology for graphics, AI and computing, has cashed in on booming demand for chips as a global shortage continues to drive up prices.

In the first half of the year Imagination signed over 35 licensees in sectors including automotive, datacentre and desktop and mobile.

The company has a 37 per cent share in smartphone graphics processing units (GPU) and is the largest GPU supplier to the automotive industry.

It identified the datacentre and desktop markets as significant growth opportunities, as well as the shift to electric vehicles.

“The strong set of first half results, together with the healthy pipeline of opportunities, confirms we are executing well against our refreshed strategy,” said chief executive Simon Beresford-Wylie.

“We’re focused on the right segments and the right geographies. It’s also gratifying to see that Imagination is back to growth and generating solid profits and free cash-flow. My sense is that we now have good momentum and I look forward to building on the turnaround that we have affected.”

China chip fears

The figures come amid growing controversy over the sale of key British tech assets to foreign buyers, especially in the vital chip industry.

The planned $40bn takeover of chipmaker Arm by US rival Nvidia has already attracted scrutiny from the competition watchdog, as well as government concerns over national security.

Meanwhile former Imagination boss Ron Black is among the bidders preparing a potential white knight bid for Newport Wafer Fab, the huge British microchip factory set to be sold to a Chinese-owned firm.

Imagination itself has been no stranger to controversy after state-owned China Reform Holdings — a major shareholder in Imagination’s private equity owner Canyon Bridge — attempted to seize control of the chipmaker’s board. 

The move sparked criticism from MPs and led to the resignation of boss Black alongside several other senior executives.

Beresford-Wylie, a veteran telecoms executive who previously held senior roles at Nokia, Samsung and Arqiva, took over as chief executive of Imagination in October last year.