Opera nods at Chinese group's $1.2 billion bid

The Norwegian browser maker seeks to improve its penetration and profitability under new ownership.

Opera is looking to the East.

Opera

Opera Software intends to accept a $1.2 billion acquisition offer from a group of Chinese companies.

The Norway-based company said Wednesday its board unanimously recommends that shareholders approve the bid, which would give the browser maker a strong push into China.

The Chinese consortium includes Internet security company Qihoo 360, Internet firm Beijing Kunlun (which invested roughly $93 million into Grindr earlier in the year) and investment group Golden Brick and Yonglian.

According to Opera, the $1.2 billion is a 56 percent premium over Opera's share price during the last 30 trading days.

Despite claiming 350 million users, the company's browser has struggled in the oversaturated Western market. 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.

"There is strong strategic and industrial logic to the acquisition of Opera by the consortium," Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera, said in a statement. "We believe that the consortium, with its breadth of expertise and strong market position in emerging markets, will be a strong owner of Opera."

Opera was founded in 1995 and released its namesake browser in 1997. Though never a top dog, Opera has always had a loyal following.

The company made one of the first true mobile browsers, which was one of the best in the early days of Android phones. In recent years, Opera has mainly focused on its advertising and data compression technology, Opera Max.

Opera still needs the go-ahead of its shareholders and governments before the sale is final.

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