Opera Software has been synonymous with fast browsers and data compression for years now. But despite improving its applications and releasing new ones like Opera Max, the company has been struggling financially and looking for a buyer since 2015. It seems that the search is about to be over as a Chinese Consortium has offered to buy Opera for $1.2 Billion.
The Consortium is made of Beijing Kunlun Tech (a mobile gaming focused company that acquired Grinder last month) and Qihoo 360 (China's number one internet and mobile security product provider - yes, that means antivirus), and backed by investment funds Golden Brick and Yonglian. It made an offer to buy 100% of Opera at 10.3 Billion Norwegian Kroner ($1.2B), a 53% premium over the closing price of Opera's stock as of February 4th.
The offer is awaiting approval from Opera's shareholders, but the company's board of directors has unanimously recommended the acceptance of the offer to its shareholders and Opera's CEO Lars Boilesen stated that this transfer of Opera to Kunlun and Qihoo "will strengthen Opera's position to serve our users and partners with even greater innovation, and to accelerate our plans of expansion and growth."
The offer is expected to be approved by the beginning of March 2016, after which the purchase will have to go through all the government and regulatory processes to be final. It doesn't look like the Opera brand or products will be gone anytime soon, but instead, Kunlun and Qihoo will use Opera's established 350 million user base to sell their products and benefit from its advertising platform.
If this sounds like it's bridging the line of a Cheetah Mobile-Quickpic story to you, I won't blame you. It does so to me, except for the huge amount of money exchanging hands. I hope that means that Opera chose carefully its buyer and won't start including compulsory Qihoo services and throwing antivirus ads at you each time you open it. That would be a sad way to die for such an iconic brand.
Opera has issued a statement regarding the buyout offer to quell some of its users fears:
Since the February 10, 2016 announcement regarding Opera Software ASA's receipt of an acquisition offer, we have been listening and paying close attention to our users' reactions. While we have received incredible support from our followers on social media, we are aware of additionally voiced concerns.
We want to thank you for your excitement about a stronger Opera but also address your questions. We take pride in being actively involved with our users and followers around the world and appreciate you being part of the conversation.
The acquisition deal is not yet finalized and we want to assure our users that in any resulting scenario, Opera will remain the Norwegian company you know and love.
“Opera plans to continue operating as a standalone company," explains Karin GreveIsdahl, VP of Communications at Opera. "We are a Norwegian company subject to Norwegian (EU/EEA) privacy laws. Our shareholders may change but our legal obligations in this respect will not. All data will continue to be handled in accordance with our Norwegian legal obligations nothing has changed in this respect.”
As we continue to pursue our mission to help over 350 million global users stay connected and maintain their privacy while saving on their data plans, we honor your trust and invite you to keep an eye out for more exciting updates, apps, and services coming from the Opera family.
Thank you for all your support. Please feel free to reach out to us through our social media channels on Twitter, Facebook, and the Opera blog if you have any questions or concerns as we continue to work hard on the products you love.