Can Opera's Chinese suitors make looming deadline for $1.2bn browser takeover bid?

February's multimillion dollar bid for Norwegian browser maker Opera Software from a group of Chinese investors is about to reach crunch time.
Written by Stig Øyvann, Contributor

Opera has recently introduced new ad-blocking, battery saving and VPN features to its browsers.

Image: Opera Software

Figures in a statement from Opera Software have cast doubt on whether a $1.2bn takeover bid from a Chinese consortium will go ahead as planned.

The company has issued a communiqué to the Norwegian stock exchange explaining that less than 73 percent of its stockholders have currently accepted the offer from the Chinese investment consortium Golden Brick Silk Road (Shenzhen) Equity Investment Fund II.

However, the text of the original bid states that the offering has to achieve a minimum acceptance level of 90 percent of the total stock for the takeover to happen. The offer expires next Tuesday afternoon, May 24, central European time.

The Opera statement explains that Golden Brick has made it clear that if the minimum amount of stock is not reached, the offer will be withdrawn.

"Consequently, unless the offeror has received acceptances of the offer from shareholders representing more than 90 percent of the shares in the company by the end of the offer period, the offer will lapse," the statement said.

It also explained that the offer period will not be extended.

Nevertheless, the statement continues: "The offeror is confident that the offer will be completed if the minimum acceptance condition is satisfied."

The Chinese offer for Opera's stock is NOK 71, or about €7.7 per share. After the announcement hit the Oslo stock exchange yesterday, Opera stock closed on NOK 60.55, down 3.5 per cent.

Opera began looking for a buyer in August 2015, after a fall in earnings resulting from a steady loss of browser marketshare and advertising sales. The company hired Morgan Stanley International and ABG Sundal Collier to help with the search.

"Our board has undertaken a careful review of the terms and conditions of the offer and is unanimous in its recommendation. We commend the management team on the work they have done on behalf of the shareholders, employees and other Opera stakeholders," Sverre Munck, chairman of Opera's board, said at the time of the bid in February.

Opera has recently introduced new ad-blocking, battery saving and VPN features to its browsers.

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