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How a British technology champion almost fell into the hands of China

“James Bond Fantasy”

The documents emerged as part of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Black, who claims he was fired for exposing China’s takeover attempt.

In April 2020, Black abruptly left the company because there were plans to hire the four directors. It was only when executives leaked the plan to the media that Great Britain intervened – and forced the takeover to be canceled at short notice.

Black is now suing the company in an employment tribunal for $257 million. During the hearings, which concluded last week, Black said he was offered what felt like a “bribe” to move Imagination to China. He argued he resigned because the plan was to “effectively transfer Imagination to the Chinese government.”

Black’s lawyers claimed that secret emails between investors and a Chinese employee revealed plans to “inject” intellectual property “for the party (and) for China.”

Imagination, meanwhile, argues that Black was actually the architect of the company’s expansion into China, as he championed the $300 million investment.

The company claims that Black ultimately torpedoed China Reform’s takeover, not because he wanted to protect sensitive technologies from Beijing, but because he had fallen out with investors.

During his testimony, Black said he fought attempts to put the company into Chinese hands and that his revelations helped prevent that.

According to Imagination, he only became a fighter for the protection of British technology when it was of interest to him.

Andrew Burns, Imagination’s lawyer, said on Tuesday that Black had invented a “James Bond fantasy.” The court is expected to announce its verdict later this year.

Back to Great Britain

Regardless of who pushed for closer ties with China, those plans now appear to have fizzled out.

Although Imagination remains owned by Chinese investors, the company remains headquartered in the UK and has appointed British and French directors.

These include Sir Peter Bonfield, the former head of BT, and British CEO Simon Beresford-Wylie, the former head of Arqiva.

Meanwhile, investment group THG, which had proposed moving the company to China, ultimately got cold feet as Britain also tightened its export controls.

According to the Telegraph, Black’s allegations of a Chinese takeover in the UK led to a security review of the company, which concluded that the company’s technology was not sensitive enough to require export controls.

Last year, The Telegraph reported that the company had confidentially applied to list on the US stock exchange, but plans are not believed to be imminent.

All recent developments show that the imagination has returned to the West.

However, this leaves no doubt that one of Britain’s most important technology companies almost fell into the hands of China.

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