$1.2bn Opera takeover gets go ahead from shareholders

The Chinese consortium has secured enough support for its Opera offer to proceed with its $1.2bn takeover of the Norwegian browser maker.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Buyout is expected to open up Opera to the Chinese market and help members of the consortium expand beyond China.

Image: Opera Software

Opera's Chinese suitors have secured the minimum level of shareholder support they demanded to proceed with their $1.2bn offer for the Norwegian software firm.

Opera announced today that a preliminary tally of acceptances had passed the threshold set by the Chinese consortium, which is led by Chinese investment Golden Brick Silk Road (Shenzhen) Equity Investment Fund II, along with limited partners, gaming firm, Kunlun, and search and security firm, Qihoo 360, and Yonglian Investment.

The consortium announced in March that the offer would only stand if it had gained an acceptance rate of at least 90 percent of the total number of shares in Opera.

Following an extension in April, that offer expired on Tuesday afternoon. Opera said today that based on the preliminary count, the condition had been met but that a final deal was still subject to further conditions.

"The preliminary result of the offer indicates that the minimum acceptance condition ... has been met. The final result will be published as soon as it is available," Opera said.

Opera said the consortium had received acceptances for a total 132,91,316 Opera shares, representing approximately 90.6 percent of the outstanding share capital and 90.9 percent of the votes.

The consortium still needs approval from relevant US and Chinese regulators, which it expects to have in place by June.

Despite board support for the deal from the outset, the offer had only achieved a 72 percent acceptance rate. Last week it was still well short of the 90 percent acceptance mark, and investors were warned that the offer would be withdrawn if it wasn't reached.

An independent assessment by Carnegie AS in April estimated the offer of 71 NOK per share represented an approximately 53 percent premium on the closing price on 4 February.

Opera began scouting for potential buyers last August, which culminated in the February offer by the Chinese consortium.

The deal is expected to open up Opera to the Chinese market and help members of the consortium expand beyond China.

Though Opera's share of the desktop browser market is minor compared with Chrome, Mozilla, and Internet Explorer, it does count over 120 million users of its mobile browser products. Moreover, Opera has shown a willingness to experiment with its browsers, recently introducing a built-in ad blocker, a built-in VPN for its desktop browser, as well as a new power-saving mode.

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