$1.2bn offer for Opera scrapped, new $600m deal centres on browser and consumer business

The Chinese consortium that offered $1.2bn for the whole of Opera has now offered half the amount to take just Opera's consumer business.

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A revised offer focusing on Opera's consumer business has been put forward. Image: Opera

A Chinese consortium $1.2bn takeover offer for Norwegian browser maker Opera is off the table, after the two firms failed to gain regulatory approval by an agreed deadline.

Opera and the Kunqi consortium, which consists of Chinese search and security firm Qihoo 360 and gaming company Kunlun, have instead agreed a narrower deal, priced at $600m. The revised deal includes Opera's consumer business, but not its advertising arm Opera Mediaworks, or Opera's apps and games unit, and Opera TV.

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The consumer business covers Opera's most familiar products, including its mobile and desktop browsers, as well as its performance and privacy apps, the data-saving Opera Max app, and the Opera VPN.

Kunqi also plans to take ownership of Opera's technology licensing business outside of Opera TV, and Opera's 29 percent share in the Chinese joint venture nHorizon.

Opera had gained approval from shareholders in May to proceed with the initial $1.2bn offer, which represented NOK 71 ($8.37) per share and a roughly 53 percent premium on Opera's price back in February, when the offer was first announced. Opera and Kunqi expected to have gained approval from Chinese and US regulators for that deal by the end of June.

In a statement, Opera today said the agreed "drop-dead date" of 15 July for gaining regulatory approval was not met. As part of the new offer for Opera's consumer business, Kunqi asked Opera to agree not to extend the deadline for the original deal beyond 15 July.

Opera said that if the new offer can proceed by 31 October, it the will use the funds to repay debt and distribute a dividend to shareholders. They have agreed to extend the deadline if necessary to 31 December.

Opera chairman Sverre Munck told Reuters that instead of the NOK 71 payout shareholders were expecting, they would now receive an "extraordinary dividend" by autumn. Munck also said that no regulator had rejected the deal, but that an answer was not received by the agreed deadline.

Munck also said that while Opera and Kunqi could have extended the deadline, they opted not to due to the uncertainty it would have caused.

Opera expects its remaining businesses deliver revenues between $570m and $605m and profits of between $75 and 90m, up from $467m in revenues and $74m profit in 2015.

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