Opera’s shareholders greenlight $1.2B sale to Chinese consortium

Browser maker Opera’s proposed $1.2 billion acquisition by a consortium of Chinese companies just took a major step towards completion after its shareholders voted in favor of the deal.

Opera announced today that 90.6 percent of the outstanding share capital and 90.9 percent of the votes in the company have approved the acquisition. That’s a preliminary result that the firm will confirm for sure soon, but, if the number stays as it is or is higher, that will be enough to enable the sale to proceed. Approval from relevant authorities in Norway and China will be required further down the line.

Today’s approval is notable because there have been murmurs of discontent about the proposed sale to Golden Brick, a group comprised of Qihoo 360, one of China’s most visible (and controversial) Internet companies which recently went private in a $9.3 billion deal, listed games firm Kunlun, which owns a 60 percent share in gay dating service Grindr, and investment firm Yonglian.

Weeks after the proposed offer was announced, Opera CEO Lars Boilesen and CTO Håkon Wium Lie told TechCrunch that decision to sell wasn’t made by them.

“I have been working for Opera since ’99, Håkon ’98,” Boilesen said. “He’s No. 8; I’m No. 16. We’ve been with Opera for many years. We got listed on the Stockholm stock exchange in 2004. So basically, the shareholders — they decided to initiate this process. It was kind of their decision. It wasn’t our decision.”

That’s hardly a ringing endorsement.

The proposed deal hasn’t stopped Opera from introducing a busy slate of product updates, including a built-in VPN for its desktop browser and mobile apps, and an ad-blocker, too.