Chinese firms offer 1.23 billion to Norway’s Opera

A group of Chinese firms have made a cash offer for Norwegian mobile phone internet browser and advertising company Opera Software, valuing the 20-year-old company at 10.5 billion crowns, or $1.23 billion, the firm said on Wednesday.
The buyers, which include New-York listed Qihoo 360 and Shenzen-listed Beijing Kunlun Tech, made an offer of 71 Norwegian crowns ($8.29) per share, a 45.6% premium on the share price on Friday.
Shares in the Oslo-based firm, best known for its Opera web browser, were suspended from trade on Friday after the shares rose to 48.77 crowns in anticipation of a promised announcement on the company’s future after saying last year it was looking to sell itself.
Chairman Sverre Munck said on Wednesday it was essential for the firm to find partners to develop.
“We will become part of an ecosystem and this is crucial in today’s world,” he told Reuters in an interview.
“Facebook and Google have their ecosystems and now we have one too, in a part of the world that is growing incredibly fast and where we will become very strong,” he said, adding that several bidders took part in the process but declined to say whom.
The Opera board has endorsed the deal and owners of 33% of Opera’s shares have already agreed to the deal.
The buyers also include unlisted Chinese firms Golden Brick Silk Road (Shenzhen) Equity Investment Fund and Yonglian Investment.
The acquisition is the second biggest in the technology sector in Norway after video conferencing technology company Tandberg, which was bought by Cisco in 2010 for 19 billion crowns.
Opera’s share price has dropped nearly 50% over the past year, while the main Oslo market index has fallen 14% over the same period.
Asked whether Wednesday’s offer could be seen as disappointing by some investors, Munck said: “If you compare in that perspective, I can understand that one can be disappointed. But the usual perspective is to see (the share price trend) over the last three months. And this is a very good premium.”
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