Intel counters Apple stake in graphics chip company

One day after Apple took a 3.6 percent stake in Imagination Technologies, the company that developed the technology used in the 3G iPhone's graphics chips, Intel responded by increasing its own stake in the company -- and said it would consider an outright acquisition of Imagination if another bid emerged.

London-based Imagination Technologies develops intellectual property found in systems-on-chip (SOCs), including its Meta processor cores and PowerVR graphics engines. A graphics chip based on PowerVR provides the graphics for Apple's 3G iPhone and other companies, including and Intel, have licensed Imagination's graphics technology.

licensed PowerVR technology for its Atom processors, as well as its CE 3100 and CE 2110 processors, SOCs designed for consumer electronics that are based on the Pentium M processor core.

On Dec. 18, Imagination revealed in a filing with the London Stock Exchange that Apple acquired 8,200,000 shares, equal to a 3.6 percent stake in the company. The next day, Intel responded by acquiring 934,422 shares in Imagination through Intel Capital, rasing its total stake to 6,934,422 shares, or 3.04 percent.

Imagination's shares closed 21 percent higher on Monday, up £0.11 to £0.64 per share.

In a statement filed with the London Stock Exchange, Intel warned it may bid to acquire Imagination if another company tabled an acquisition offer -- an apparent reference to Apple's interest in Imagination. At the same time, Intel said, "it has no current intention to make an offer for Imagination Technologies."