The Chinese owners of Imagination Technologies have selected a veteran of the microchip industry from a technology conglomerate that is backed by Beijing, following its acquisition of the British company in 2017.
It is understood that on Tuesday, Leo Li will be confirmed as the chief executive of the Hertfordshire-based company. He is set to take the place of the former Rolls-Royce executive, Andrew Heath, who took charge in 2016.
Imagination was one of the biggest listed technology companies in Britain. However, last year, it shares declined after its announcement that it had lost a deal to be the supplier of graphics chip designs to Apple.
The iPhone giant accounted for half of the revenues of Imagination and the uncertainty that was generated by losing the deal urged the company to be acquired by Canyon Bridge Partners, a private-equity fund that is supported by the government of China, last September.
Canyon Bridge acquired Imagination for £550m. The company was forced to sell off its US-based processor division MIPS due to the fears of the United States over Chinese involvement. Imagination has appointed Li, who has served at a series of positions at Chinese semiconductor firms including a chip maker that is also backed by the government of the country called Tsinghua Unigroup.
China is heavily investing in semiconductor firms in an effort to address a perceived reliance on chips that are designed in the United States, and the appointment of the New CEO may show a more hands-on role from its owners.
A spokesperson for Canyon Bridge confirmed the said move, which was initially reported by Sky News. Heath took over from Sir Hossein Yassaie. The latter had helped turn Imagination into a major player but he was later ousted due to shareholder unrest two years ago.