Internet Browser Firm Files for IPO; Bitmain to Take $50 Million Private Placement

Flying a little under the radar last week was a Friday filing by Oslo, Norway-based Opera Ltd. for an initial public offering (IPO) to raise $115 million. The filing did not disclose financial terms.

Opera Ltd. is the parent company of Opera Software that makes and sells an internet browser called, surprisingly enough, Opera. There are desktop and mobile versions of the browser, and in March, the company claimed a monthly average user base of nearly 322 million.

In a private placement at the time of the IPO, Opera plans to sell $50 million in shares to Tospring Technology Ltd. and another $10 million to two other buyers. Tospring is also known as Bitmain, one the world’s largest producers of bitcoin mining technology (Nvidia is its chief competitor) and likely the world’s largest bitcoin mining company. Bitmain is estimated to have made a profit of between $3 and $4 billion last year. This is by far the most interesting part of the filing but has so far generated little notice or comment.

The browsers are free and Opera makes money through agreements with search and other partners that deliver services and ads to browser users. In 2017 the company posted $129 million in revenue, up 20% from $107 million in 2016. In 2016 the company’s net loss was $12.7 million compared to a profit of $6.1 million in 2017.

The company expects to use the net proceeds from the IPO for R&D, distribution and marketing, strategic partnerships, and working capital. The company will issue American Depositary Shares in an as-yet-unspecified ratio to its common stock. Underwriters for the offering are CICC and Goldman Sachs.

Principal shareholders of the company are Yahui Zhou and Hongyi Zhou, respectively the CEO/chairman and a director. Yahui Zhou was an executive at Renren Inc. (NYSE: RENN) and is currently an executive with Beijing Kunlun. Hongyi Zhou was a co-founder of Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Ltd. (NYSE: QIHU) and is the board chairman.

Shares are expected to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol OPRA once the IPO is completed.


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