Intel took its mobile patent portfolio off the market as it entered exclusive talks with an unknown buyer, news website IAM reported.

The move comes as Intel looks to offload some 8,500 patents related to wireless and connected device technology after abandoning its 5G modem effort in April.

In an email to potential bidders, Intel patent licensing group director James Kovacs said the mobile IP portfolio had generated “very strong market interest” since its listing at the end of June, but noted the decision to hold talks with one company precluded discussions with other interested parties, IAM reported.

He added the auction process could reopen at a later date.

Though Kovacs did not name the interested party, Apple was tipped to be a likely contender. In April, the company hired the former head of Intel’s 5G modem development unit and reportedly began talks to acquire Intel’s smartphone modem business in June.

IAM previously reported the wireless patent portfolio and modem assets were listed for sale separately.

Despite resolving its differences with chip provider Qualcomm earlier this year, Apple is rumoured to be building its own cellular modems to reduce its reliance on outside suppliers.

Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted Apple could release an in-house 5G modem as soon as 2022.