Opera's stock market debut goes like a song

The browser maker says its IPO was many times oversubscribed, signalling renewed interest in tech stocks

Norwegian browser maker Opera made its debut on the Oslo Stock Exchange on Thursday, with shares rising slightly in morning trading.

In separate news, Opera released a new version of its mobile browser, with Kyocera the first to deploy the software.

Opera, which makes a rival browser to Microsoft Internet Explorer for a variety of desktop and mobile phone operating systems, is one of a handful of tech companies making a cautious return to the financial markets. The modest success of such flotations, including those of UK Bluetooth chipmaker Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) and Wolfson Microelectronics, are seen as marking investors' renewed interest in tech shares. Following the implosion of the dot-com bubble investors have generally shunned ICT-related shares.

The browser maker said its issue of 12.5 million new shares was oversubscribed by 20 times, with 83 percent of subscribers being foreign institutional investors. Shares rose from 10 kroner (78p) to about 10.3 kroner by mid-morning -- while positive, a far cry from the explosive IPOs of the late 1990s. The shares priced at the top of the expected range, and trade under the ticker symbol OPERA. Employees, who still mostly own the company, separately sold about 11.8 million shares.

"The interest in our IPO and listing is an endorsement from the marketplace that Opera's technology is playing a significant role in the evolution of the Internet," said Christian Thommessen, chairman of Opera's board, in a statement.

The company said version 7 of its mobile browser, already shipping on a new ITRON-based handset from Kyocera that is shipping in Asia, supports dynamic Web pages including the Document Object Model (DOM). Opera uses the same rendering engine for both its mobile and desktop software, making complex HTML content available on high-end mobile phones. The WAP browsers built into most handsets are only capable of displaying pages specifically built for mobile phones.

Kyocera is Opera's first major Asian customer.

Opera 7 for Smartphones also tweaks JavaScript support and support for bi-directional text, among other features.

The browser is currently supported on Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Symbian OS, QNX, TRON, FreeBDS, Solaris and Mediahighway, and is available on smartphones from Nokia, Sony Ericsson and others.