Opera browser maker up for sale

Misses financial forecast for fiscal year

opera browser logo

Directors of Norwegian browser maker Opera Software said that they were considering selling the company and had hired bankers to help them explore options after the firm missed a second-quarter revenue forecast.

The board of directors said the move had been prompted by "strategic interest in the company from a number of parties," according to a Friday statement. In response, Opera had "initiated a process to evaluate and consider strategic alternatives ... with the objective of further enhancing shareholder value."

The Oslo-based company will be advised by bankers from ABG Sundal Collier and Morgan Stanley International.

Also on Friday, Opera acknowledged that its second-quarter revenue would come in at the low end of its prior guidance to investors, caused by a shortfall attributed to its mobile advertising arm. The culprit: Weak revenue from the video side of the ad business.

For the full 2015 fiscal year, Opera anticipates revenue of between $600 million and $618 million, about 5% off its earlier guidance of between $630 million and $650 million.

Although the 20-year-old Opera is best known to consumers as the maker of the same-named flagship browser, the company generates two-thirds of its revenue from its mobile advertising group.

The Opera browser has long been fifth in a five-browser market, even though it was frequently first with now-standard features, such as browser tabs and a new tab page filled with shortcuts to frequently visited sites.

But Opera has a miniscule share on personal computers and a shrinking share on mobile. In July, Opera accounted for just 1.3% of all browsers used that month, according to metrics vendor Net Applications, about a fourth that of Apple's Safari, the No. 4 browser, and only one thirty-ninth of the leader, Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

On mobile, Opera's browsers, including its Opera Mini -- which years ago was a stalwart on feature phones -- had a share of around 6%, far below either Safari on iOS (with a 42.4% share) and Google’s Chrome on on Android (33.2%).

Opera's board said that the review of its strategic options, including a sale of the company, would wrap up before the end of the year.

As for possible buyers, Yahoo comes to mind: The search company has been aggressively making deals to increase its search share -- it convinced Mozilla to drop Google as the default search provider for Firefox in the U.S. last year -- and also wants to grow its mobile advertising business.

In 2013, Yahoo acquired the Rockmelt browser for a reported $60 million to $70 million.

This story, "Opera browser maker up for sale" was originally published by Computerworld.

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