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Offers? Opera's board likes Qihoo, says shareholders should too

Chinese mega firm part of buyout offer consortium

Opera's board has recommended its shareholders accept a Chinese consortium's buyout offer of $1.2bn, about 53 per cent above where it has recently been trading.

According to an email sent to shareholders by Opera's board, board members are unanimously in favour of the deal.

If completed, the buyout would see Opera gain access to the “extensive internet user base” of two of the largest Chinese companies which are involved in the consortium, Kunlun and Qihoo.

The Chinese firms expect to be able to cross-sell their products and services to the Opera userbase, as well snag some benefits from Opera's “leading mobile advertising platform” – though the company's desktop browser is merely the fifth most used in the world, lagging way behind Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Opera's mobile users, however, were reckoned at a reasonable 291 million in June 2015, according to a report from the Oslo-based company itself. The company is now focused on mobile advertising, with the formerly browser-focused company now skinning up around a Chromium build.

33 per cent of Opera's shares are ready to approve the deal, which the Middle Kingdom tech firms will pay for through a combination of equity and debt financing. The offer asks for more than 90 per cent of “the issued and outstanding share capital and voting rights of Opera on a fully diluted basis,” and will not be “subject to any financing or due diligence conditions.”

The browser remains the most popular in the former Soviet “republic” of Tajikistan, whose president has been in charge since 1994, as well as in much of Africa.

Opera has struggled in recent years, with CEO Jon von Tetzchner doing a runner and launching the competing Vivaldi browser, which was available as a beta release last November.

The tetchy von Tetzchner responded to the news by stating that Opera may "no longer be independent" if the deal goes through. In his vlogged message he encouraged Opera users to flee and join his own outfit.

Jon von Tetzchner's vlog about the deal


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