​Browser maker Opera eyes a possible sale

Opera has begun a strategic review as its mobile advertising business takes a revenue hit in Europe and the US.

Norwegian browser maker Opera could be sold after slashing its full year earnings forecast last week.

Opera announced on Friday that it's on the hunt for a buyer "in response to strategic interest in the company from a number of parties".

Opera's board has appointed ABG Sundal Collier and Morgan Stanley International as advisors for a strategic review of the company that's expected to be completed by the second half of the year.

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Though more well known for its desktop and mobile browsers, Opera has expanded its online advertising business through numerous acquisitions in new markets in recent years.

The company announced on Friday that it had bought Brazilian company Bemobi. The subscription-based mobile app and games discovery company, which focuses on Latin American market, will boost Opera's own mobile app store.

Bemobi offers app developers a conduit to over six million subscribers and a way of getting their ware discovered and monetised. Instead of developers selling their apps individually, Opera says Bemobi offers consumers a paid subscription service for mobile games and apps.

Subscriptions are accessed through Bemobi's partners, which include mobile operators and handset makers in Brazil. It also lets subscribers pay for apps via their prepaid mobile accounts, addressing consumers who may not have access to credit cards.

The service is similar to the Opera Subscription Mobile Store that the company launched late last year. The managed app store service is aimed at operators in emerging markets that want to establish their own branded app stores. Opera has also dabbled in ad-sponsored internet access with carrier partners.

Opera on Friday reported second quarter revenue of $146m, up from $100m in the same period last year and just ahead of its guidance of $144m to $155m.

However the company also cut back its expected revenue for the full year due to weaknesses in its third party publisher mobile advertising business in the US and Europe. The new full year 2015 guidance of $600m to $618m is down from the previous estimate of $630m to $650m.

"While AdColony Instant Play brand and performance revenue continues to be in line with expectations for the Opera Mobile Advertising - 3rd Party Publisher business area, Opera experienced softness in the non-Instant play video advertising part of its business during the latter part of 2Q15, which also has carried into July, both in the United States and EMEA. As a result, Opera now expects total revenue from the Opera Mobile Advertising - 3rd Party Publisher area of $392m-405m versus earlier expectations of $445m-455m," Opera said in a statement.

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