Chinese Group Offers $1.2B for Opera Browser

The deal gives the Chinese investors access to a product that has lagged in the West but still has a loyal following in developing countries.
Matthew HellerFebruary 10, 2016

A group of Chinese investors including two tech companies has made a $1.2 billion bid to acquire the Norwegian maker of the Opera browser, which has struggled in the oversaturated Western market.

The board of Opera Software said Wednesday it had decided unanimously to recommend shareholder approval of the deal, which represents a 56% premium based on the average share price over the past 30 days. The approval of 90% of shareholders is required for the deal to go through.

The Chinese consortium of buyers includes Internet security company Qihoo 360, mobile-game maker Beijing Kunlun (which has invested roughly $93 million in the Grindr app), and investment firm Yonglian.

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Opera has been looking for what it calls “strategic opportunities” since August after missing financial targets due to sluggish ad sales. “There is strong strategic and industrial logic to the acquisition of Opera by the consortium,” Opera CEO Lars Boilesen said in a news release.

“The consortium’s ownership will strengthen Opera’s position to serve our users and partners with even greater innovation, and to accelerate our plans of expansion and growth,” he added.

Opera Software was a pioneer in developing a browser specifically for mobile phones, using compression technology to speed download times. It has also invested heavily in its mobile advertising business.

The company claims 350 million users, but with a 5.5% market share, its browser ranks sixth behind Chrome, Apple’s Safari, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Alibaba’s UCWeb.

“The deal would give the buyers a name that has faded amid intense competition from Google’s Chrome and other browsers but still has a following in the developing world,” the New York Times said.

According to CNET, “China could be a profitable arena for Opera, in part because Google’s Chrome browser does not come preinstalled on Android phones in China like it does elsewhere. In addition, doing business in China without local partners is nigh impossible, but Opera could leverage the networks of Kunlun and Qihoo 360 if the deal goes through.”