Device manufacturer Oppo closed-down chip design subsidiary Zeku, blaming uncertainties in the global economy and smartphone market in a statement reported by South China Morning Post.

Zeku was founded in 2019 as part of a drive for the manufacturer to design its own semiconductors and was responsible for Oppo’s in-house chip development. The newspaper noted the closure was abrupt, with the business actively recruiting for staff two weeks ago.

The subsidiary’s social media channels, its only remaining accessible online presence, stated it specialised in application processors; short range communication chips; 5G modems; radio frequency silicon; and power management tools.

Oppo regularly features as the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in analyst shipment figures. Counterpoint Research figures for Q1 released earlier this week put its shipments at 24 million units, down from 31 million in the comparable period of 2022.

Aside from apparent woes in its chip design unit, Oppo has also been the subject of much speculation in Europe over recent months.

In March it was forced to deny speculation it was set to quit some markets and has been at the subject of a patent row with Nokia which led to it suspending sales in Germany.

Despite the issue, it has regularly reiterated its commitment to the European market and heavily promoted its latest devices in the region.