Opera Software announced a Chinese consortium is set to buy the company in a deal worth $1.2 billion, stating that there is a “strong strategic and industrial logic”.

The potential buyers are internet firms Kunlun and Qihoo, backed by investment funds Golden Brick and Yonglian. The deal will give Opera access to the “extensive internet user base” of the first two, and “financing and other support” from the consortium “to allow for the full potential of the company to be realised”.

Kunlun and Qihoo will also benefit from the ability to cross-sell products and services to the Opera user base, and benefit from Opera’s ad platform.

In a statement, Opera said the cash offer price represents a premium of 53 per cent per share on its price on 4 February – the day speculation about the company’s future began appearing in the media.

It follows a strategic review announced by the company last year.

Q4 results
While Opera had previously warned of tough times ahead, its Q4 2015 results were not overwhelmingly bleak.

It reported a loss of $6.6 million, compared with a loss of $58.3 million in Q4 2014, on revenue of $193.5 million, up 25 per cent. The Q4 2014 profit figure was impacted by an acquisition-related impairment charge.

Adjusted EBITDA of $32.8 million, down 5 per cent year-on-year, was “at the very high end of Opera’s guidance range for the quarter”, while revenue was above its forecast.

Revenue growth in its mobile advertising and consumer units was strong, although its tech licensing business was pressured.

The offer has been “unanimously recommended” to shareholders, and members of the board and executive team have pre-accepted. Larger shareholders, representing 33 per cent of Opera shares outstanding, have also undertaken to accept the offer.

The launch of the offer is conditional on achieving the support of Kunlun’s backers, which is expected by the beginning of March 2016. The acceptance period for the offer is expected to begin on 15 March.