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Opera declines after warning sale to Chinese group may fail

[STOCKHOLM] Opera Software ASA fell 10 per cent in Oslo after the maker of browsers for mobile devices disclosed that its attempted takeover by Chinese buyers may not get government approval before this week's deadline.

July 15 is the "drop dead date" for the required nod from authorities, Opera said in a statement Tuesday. The bidder and Opera are exploring alternative options and will give an update later.

Opera said in April the deal, valued at more than US$1 billion, needed approvals from Chinese authorities and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which can recommend transactions be blocked if they pose a risk to national security.

The buyer group hired law firm Covington & Burling LLP and Opera tapped Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP to help the deal pass CFIUS reviews.

"We are working hard to do a transaction here, hence while nothing can be excluded it is also important to wait until 15 July or earlier if all conditions are met," Opera said in an e- mailed response to questions.

The company declined to provide more details about the governmental approval still missing.

The stock fell as low as 58.75 kroner and was down 10 per cent at 60.75 kroner at the close in Oslo, the most in 17 months. The buyer group began its 71 krone-a-share cash offer in February, which at the time was a 46 per cent premium to the latest closing price.

The Norwegian company's browsers help mobile-phone, tablet and computer users surf the web faster by using less data. The software maker has 350 million monthly active users of its consumer products.

Its browsers are embedded in devices made by smartphone makers such as Samsung Electronics Co and Xiaomi Corp.

The buyer group includes private-equity firm Golden Brick Capital Management Ltd and Chinese game maker Beijing Kunlun Tech Co, Internet security provider Qihoo 360 Technology Co and Yonglian Investment Co.

The sale will give Opera access to the web-user base of Kunlun and Qihoo in China as well as additional financing, the company has said.