Opera browser maker up for sale
- 10 August, 2015 23:47
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.