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China bid for Opera blocked, deal reshaped

A Chinese consortium’s $1.24 billion (€1.12bn) bid for Norwegian online browser and advertising specialist Opera Software has been blocked by the regulator Opera said, sending its shares to a seven-month low.

Instead, the Golden Brick Capital Private Equity Fund consortium, which includes search and security business Qihoo 360 Technology Co and Beijing Kunlun Tech Co, a distributor of online and mobile games, will take over certain parts of Opera’s consumer business for $600 million, Opera said in a statement.

The original deal had needed the approval of the Chinese and US authorities. Opera did not say whether approval from China, the United States, or both, was lacking.

“No regulators have said no. We have not received an answer within the agreed deadline,” Opera Chairman Sverre Munck told Reuters, adding the parties could have postponed the deal but decided not to.

“The uncertainty that would have caused, and the length of the time it would take would have been something that would have been negative both for the consortium and for us. That is why we chose to pursue the alternative deal.”

Under the new deal, Chinese firms will buy Opera’s mobile and desktop browser. The deal also includes Opera’s performance and privacy apps, Opera’s non-TV related technology licensing business and its 29 per cent ownership in Chinese joint venture nHorizon.

The parts of Opera’s business that are not included in the deal are Opera TV, Opera Mediaworks and Opera’s apps and games, including Bemobi – a Latin American ‘Netflix-style’ subscription service for premium Android apps, which the company acquired last year.

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