Chinese group offers $1.2 billion for Opera browser

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Remember the Opera browser? A group of Chinese investors has offered to buy it for $1.2 billion.

Opera Software (OPESF) said the consortium consists of Chinese Internet firms Kunlun and Qihoo (QIHU), backed by two Chinese private equity funds.

The Norway-based company claims to have more than 350 million users for browsing and mobile advertising.

It said the takeover would allow gaming firm Kunlun and mobile advertising firm Qihoo to sell their products and services to Opera’s user base.

The Opera browser launched 20 years ago, at time when users had to pay for a browser.

Competitors then included Netscape (VZ, Tech30) Navigator, Mosaic and the first incarnation of Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30)‘s Internet Explorer. Opera was popular years before Safari, Firefox or Chrome were developed.

Related: China is buying foreign firms at a record rate

The takeover offer, which has the support of Opera’s board, represents a 56% premium to the company’s stock price over the past month.

It’s the latest in a string of big foreign acquisitions by Chinese companies.

In the first month of the year, Chinese companies announced plans to buy 66 foreign companies worth $68 billion. That’s equivalent to 60% of the value of all such deals last year, according to Dealogic.

And since then Chinese investors have agreed to purchase the Chicago Stock Exchange.

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