PIONEERING WEB browser company Opera is selling its core consumer technology to a Chinese consortium for a knock-down $600m just a week after a proposed $1.2bn acquisition of the company by the same motley crew of private equiteers and tech companies supposedly fell through.
Opera is selling its name, the mobile and desktop browser businesses and its privacy and performance applications. These include the SurfEasy virtual private network (VPN) offering that is now built in to the Opera browser, which the firm acquired in March 2015.
Opera will retain the Opera TV, Opera Mediaworks and Opera Apps & Games units that generated combined profits of $74m on revenues of $467m in 2015, according to the company. Despite this, Opera has debts of $285m, which the company promises to reduce when the deal is done and dusted.
The consortium includes Qihoo 360, a Chinese antivirus software company that was accused of gaming anti-malware tests and stripped of its rankings last year, and a bunch of Chinese fund managers and private equity funds, including Golden Brick Capital.
Opera CEO Lars Boilsen will continue in the role until the end of the year, when he will become sole CEO of the remaining business.
The consortium will be obliged to pay $100m as a termination fee to Opera if it is unable to complete the deal, although it is unclear how that might be enforced should it happen.
Opera's 2013 decision to shift its core browser technology to Chromium lost the company a lot of hardcore users, as the new browser lacks many of the features on which users had come to rely.
It would also seem that the company's acquisition of Canada's SurfEasy VPN service hasn't generated the anticipated subscription revenues.
Many of Opera's once-loyal users shifted to rivals following the technology transition, while Vivaldi, the web browser established by Opera founder Jon von Tetzchner, came out of beta earlier this year and includes many of the features Opera dumped in 2013. µ
We should be shocked, but...
But the search giant has now squashed the bug
But it's not yet available here in Blighty