A Chinese consortium of Internet companies hoped to buy the Norwegian online browser and advertising company Opera Software, but the deal has failed, Opera said on Monday. According to Opera, the deal failed because certain regulatory approvals were missing, but the company did not specify whose approvals they lacked by a July 15 deadline.
The deal, which was worth $1.24 billion USD, should have seen the entirety of Opera’s business—advertising, television, applications, games, and browser included, go over to the Chinese consortium of search and security business, Qihoo 360 Technology Co, and online/mobile game distributor Beijing Kunlun Tech Co.
Instead, the Chinese bidders have agreed to buy parts of Opera’s consumer business in a deal valued at $600 million USD on an enterprise basis. The Norwegian company will now sell its flagship product—mobile and desktop browser—as well as its performance and privacy apps, technology licensing outside of Opera TV and Opera’s 29.09% stake in Chinese joint venture nHorizon. The new deal doesn’t not include Opera Media works, App & Games or Opera TV.
Opera is a web browser developed by Opera Software. It first began in 1994 as a research project at Telenor, the largest Norwegian telecommunications company. In 1995, it branched out into a separate company named Opera Software ASA. Opera was first released publicly with version 2.0 in 1996, which only ran on Microsoft Windows. In an attempt to capitalize on the emerging market for Internet-connected handheld devices, a project to port Opera to mobile device platforms was started in 1998. Opera 4.0, released in 2000, included a new cross-platform core that facilitated creation of editions of Opera for multiple operating systems and platforms.
The latest version is available for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux operating systems, and uses the Blink layout engine. Opera siblings, Opera Mobile, Opera Mini and Opera Coast, work on devices running Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Symbian, Maemo, Bada, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile operating systems, while Opera Mini runs on Java ME-capable devices.
According to Opera Software, the browser had more than 350 million users worldwide in the 4th quarter 2014. In 2014, Opera was the fifth most popular desktop browser worldwide, according to StatCounter. In Q3 2015, Opera’s usage share across all platforms was 6.00%.
Qihoo 360, full name Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Ltd., is a Chinese internet security company known for its antivirus software (360 Safeguard, 360 Mobile Safe), Web Browser (360 Browsers), and Mobile Application Store (360 Mobile Assistant). It was founded by Zhou Hongyi and Qi Xiangdong in June 2005. Qihoo 360 had 496 million users for its Internet Security products and 641 million users for its Mobile Antivirus products as of June 2014.
However, Qihoo 360 is not without controversies. It has been described by Forbes as “a confrontational and litigious company” due to its involvement in various anti-competition lawsuits.
The company was involved in lawsuits with Tencent, starting with the 360 v. Tencent dispute, as well as other companies such as Baidu, Emiage, Sogou. The company has been accused by Anonymous of overstating the volume of traffic to its site in order to attract advertisers.