Chinese-owned Imagination Technologies gets one step closer to a London listing as its board reshuffle allows it to pass stock exchange guidelines.
The British microchip maker reportedly hired Carol Chesney, a board member at four other London-listed companies, as an independent director.
This brings the company in line with UK corporate governance code, which requires at least half of directors other than the chairman to be independent.
She is also the first woman to join the all-male board, edging the company closer to a potential FTSE 250 flotation next year.
Imagination is owned by Canyon Bridge, the Beijing-based investment firm funded by state-owned China Reform.
Chesney’s appointment means that a majority of directors are also now independent from Canyon Bridge, and an official announcement in expected in the coming days.
As reported by the Sunday Telegraph, her appointment notably boosts the chances of Imagination floating on the London Stock Exchange rather than New York’s Nasdaq; a Hong Kong listing has already been ruled out by the company.
An important backdrop to Imagination’s upcoming float is the growing controversy over the sale of key British tech assets to foreign buyers, especially in the vital chip industry.
In fact, the planned $40bn (£30bn) takeover of chipmaker Arm by US rival Nvidia attracted scrutiny earlier this year from the UK competition watchdog, as well as government concerns over national security.
Imagination’s global headquarters is in Hertfordshire and its primary business is in the design of PowerVR mobile graphics processors (GPUs), neural network accelerators for AI processing, and networking routers.
The company was originally listed on the London Stock Exchange until it was acquired in November 2017 by the Chinese firm. It valued the business at £550m (£1.82 per share).
It came after Apple considered buying Imagination in 2016, but never made a formal offer. In early 2017, the Imagination’s stock prices fell by 70 per cent after it reported that Apple planned to stop using its intellectual property within its system-on-chips within the next two years.