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Opera tries to translate mobile advertising growth to Chinese market

With Opera Mediaworks? mobile advertising business up 41 percent year-over-year and video ? one area of focus ? a growing trend, the platform?s parent company is considering a $1.2 billion acquisition offer from a consortium of Chinese companies. 

Opera ASA, parent company to Opera Mediaworks and Web browser Opera, has received an acquisition offer from a consortium of Chinese Internet companies, including Qihoo 360 Software and Kunlun, a mobile app and games firm, as well as two investment funds. The deal, if it happens, could support Opera?s aspirations to be a leading browser and advertising player in the global marketplace.

?This is a huge opportunity to become embedded in the most popular apps in China if the funds carry real weight in their introductions and relationships then this is a massive opportunity for Opera,? said Paul Berry, founder and CEO of Rebel Mouse.

?There will be obvious challenges in being a foreign company working in China but this could change the flavor of that and be a rocket ship for Opera,? he said. 

Cross-selling opportunities?
The deal between Opera and the Chinese consortium, if it goes through, would benefit the Chinese companies by enabling them to cross-sell their products and services to clients of Opera?s leading mobile advertising platform. Opera would gain access to the two companies? extensive user base in China. 
The offer price values Opera about $1.2 billion in U.S. dollars. 

Opera released its financial results for the fourth quarter this week, saying that revenue totaled $193.5 million, up 25 percent. 

From a mobile advertising perspective, Opera reported revenue totaling $145.4 million, up 41 percent year-over-year. Mobile video advertising comprised 60 percent of this revenue, up from 50 percent a year ago. 

Opera Mediaworks? audience reach exceeded 1 billion consumers, compared to 800 million a year ago. The number of apps and Web sites powered by Opera Mediaworks? ad platforms totaled 25,000 in the fourth quarter, up from 18,500 a year ago. 

In the fourth quarter, the company underwent a change in leadership with Will Kassoy, formerly CEO of AdColony, taking over as CEO of Opera Mediaworks

Mobile video
Last month, Opera Mediaworks and consumer packaged goods brands were using offline shopping data from Nielsen Catalina to target instant-play video ads in popular apps (see story). 

Last fall, Stoli Group USA partnered with Immersion Corporation and Opera Mediaworks to leverage touch-enhanced haptic technology to offer a real-world feeling in a new mobile video ad (see story)

The deal could also provide a boost to the Opera browser, which currently trails a number of other browsers in number of users. 

?Right now the momentum that Google has on Chrome is really significant,? Mr. Berry said. ?Having the ability to gain real momentum in China to gain traction and move up from the 6th place browser could be a very big deal. 

?Opera is a very solid browser, but for mobile marketers, every new browser to support is an extra challenge and overhead,? he said.