Bid for Norwegian company adds to a busy start to 2016 for outbound Chinese acquisitions
A consortium of Chinese companies has bid $1.2 billion in cash to buy Opera Software AS A, a Norwegian maker of Internet browsers, the latest sign of how a weakening currency hasn’t affected China’s appetite for acquisitions.
The Chinese bidders, including security-software firm Qihoo 360 Technology Co. and online-game company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co., on Wednesday offered to acquire Opera shares at 71 Norwegian kroner apiece ($8.27), a 46% premium to their last trading price on Friday. Trading in Opera shares was suspended on Friday amid takeover rumors. When trading resumed on Wednesday, the stock soared more than 40%, and closed up 33% at 65.10 kroner.
Opera’s board said it supported the bid, adding that shareholders holding a combined 33% interest in the company intended to tender their shares.
The Norwegian company, whose browsers are less known than rival products made by Alphabet Inc. or Microsoft Corp. , could gain the financial muscle it has lacked to place its software in more electronic devices, analysts said. Opera said it expected revenue of $690 million to $740 million this year, compared with $616 million in 2015.
Alphabet’s Chrome leads the mobile browser market with a roughly 36.8% share, followed by UCWeb, a unit of U.S.-listed Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , with about 20%, according to Internet analytics firm StatCounter.
Opera comes in fourth behind Apple Inc. ’s Safari, with roughly 10.8% of the market, according to StatCounter. Including other platforms, such as tablet, desktop and console browsing, Opera comes in sixth, with a market share of about 5.7%.
The proposed deal is the latest in a wave of outbound acquisitions by Chinese companies this year amid China’s slowing economy and falling currency. Chinese firms have made more than $60 billion in takeover offers this year, including state-owned China National Chemical Corp.’s recent agreement to acquire Swiss pesticide and seed company Syngenta AG for $43 billion.
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