Chinese firms extend deadline on $1.28 billion offer for Opera Software

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A group of Chinese internet firms who made a cash offer in February for Norwegian mobile phone browser and advertising firm Opera Software, valuing it at $1.28 billion, have extended the offer as it has not reached the required level of acceptances.

The group said on Thursday it had received acceptances representing 72.19 percent of the shares in Opera, below the required level of more than 90 percent.

The offer, which had been unanimously endorsed by the board of Opera, is now extended to May 24 at 1630 CET (1030 EDT), the latest deadline possible, the group of buyers said in a statement to the Oslo stock exchange.

“There will be no further extensions to the offer period,” it said.

The buyers include U.S.-listed web search and security firm Qihoo 360 and Beijing Kunlun Tech, a distributor of online and mobile games.

The group is offering 71 Norwegian crowns ($8.60) per share, with the total price equating to about 10 times the company’s forecast core earnings.

Shares in Opera Software closed down 0.39 percent at 64.25 crowns on Thursday, while the main Oslo market index <0#.OSEBX> closed flat.

“There is no incentive for shareholders to lock in their shares until the very last moment, so the postponement was expected,” said Haavard Nilsson, an analyst at Oslo-based brokerage Carnegie.

The deal also needs to be approved by Chinese and U.S. authorities and the decisions are not expected until late June, he added.

Carnegie is not an adviser on the deal. In March it gave an independent assessment of the deal, saying that it was “fair”.

The buyer consortium also includes the Golden Brick Silk Road (Shenzhen) Equity Investment Fund and its Yonglian Investment affiliate, and the takeover will result in a mobile Internet business combination of Opera, Kunlun, Qihoo and Golden Brick.

Opera’s hoped-for acquisition is part of a complex of deals being done by the Chinese buyers seeking to join forces in their home market to better compete with bigger rivals such as Alibaba and Tencent.

Opera also helps the group expand into emerging markets in Asia, Africa and elsewhere.

Morgan Stanley and ABG Sundal Collier are financial advisors to Opera while Citigroup and Arctic Securities are advising some members of the group of buyers and act as overall co-ordinators.

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Greg Mahlich)