Opera Software shares up on Facebook bid talk
Published May 29 2012, 15:53 BST | By Andrew Laughlin
Shares in Opera Software were up by as much as 26% on Tuesday (May 29) after speculation that Facebook could be interested in buying the mobile browser giant
, despite analysts estimating a more than $1bn (£637m) price tag.
Opera, maker of one of the most popular mobile web browsers in the world, is said to be attracting the attentions of Mark Zuckerberg's social network as part its long-term goal to create a Facebook smartphone
After surging by 26% on the Oslo stock exchange, shares in Opera fell back at around midday, but stayed around 17% higher than Friday's (May 25) closing price, valuing the firm at around $800 million (£510m).
Analysts believe that competition for the Opera Software deal could push the price tag up to $1.35bn (£860m), particularly if Google joins the bidding.
According to Reuters
, analysts Arctic Securities said that a deal for Opera would "be sensible for Facebook
on several levels".
The firm said: "It would enhance the now-limited mobile experience of Facebook, improve Facebook's mobile monetisation problem, help Facebook retain online game developers leaving the social network over the lack of a mobile platform and further improve Facebook's ability to target ads."
Arctic Securities said that a takeover of Opera would also "likely send cold water down Google's spine", particularly as the two tech giants are increasingly becoming competitors across various markets.
US search firm Google recently completed its multi-billion dollar acquisition of phone maker Motorola Mobility, and is Opera's default search partner for Opera Mini and Opera Mobile worldwide.
Opera produces web browsers that are used across various different platforms, including mobile phones, tablets, PCs and web-connected TVs. The firm is said to have about 200 million Mobile and Mini subscribers worldwide.
It is mobile, particularly, that Facebook is most interested in, particularly as Opera's browser runs on the iPhone and BlackBerry, along with phones running Google Android.
A big selling feature of the browser is that it is able to compress data by as much as 90%, allowing the user to save on their mobile data usage. Opera has also developed software for better displaying mobile ads, a key growth area for Facebook.
Opera bosses have repeatedly declined to comment on the speculation.
However, the firm's chief executive Lars Boilesen said last October that his firm would "love to" work more closely with Facebook.
"We are already Facebook's platform of distribution in emerging markets like Africa and India. A big part of the Opera Mini traffic is from Facebook. So we are already their channel in these markets," he said in an interview.
"We would love to cooperate with Facebook, but the same goes for Google and everyone else. There are no limits here, because we are the leading mobile client in these markets."
Opera founder Jon S von Tetzchner - who owns 10.9% of the stock - told Reuters
that the company should focus on "growth and delivering good results".
"We have been promised 500 million users by 2013 and I think that's a good goal and the firm should keep going for it," he said.
"I personally think that an ARPU (average revenue per user) goal of $1 is even modest. I am not pushing for a takeover."
Tetzchner said that he was not aware of any bid from Facebook, but added that it would be "undemocratic" for him to try to block it if other shareholders showed support.