Opera begins IPO to raise money for growth plans

Opera Software began an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Oslo Stock Exchange Thursday as the Norwegian browser company attempts to raise the money needed for its push into the mobile market.

Opera aims to raise about 120 million Norwegian kroner (US$17 million), Rolf Assev, executive vice president of marketing and strategic alliances said Thursday. It will use this money to invest in engineering development as it ports Opera to new operating systems, he said.

"But mainly it's to have some money in the bank, so that we can be a more flexible company," he said. "We were profitable last year and hope to be so this year, so really the money will be a reserve for us," Assev said.

Speaking in early February when the IPO plans were announced, Chief Financial Officer Christian Jebsen said the company needed the financial strength to take advantage of the growing mobile Internet market.

This market is beginning to take off and Opera is well placed to take advantage of the opportunity, as its full browser software is small enough to be used, in full, on a mobile phone, Christen Krogh, vice president engineering, said Thursday. Although the company has not been able to gain a large market share on the desktop market, it sees great opportunities in the mobile area, he said.

Opera will issue between 12.5 million to 16.1 million new shares, and its founders and investors have decided to sell some 11.8 million existing shares, or 10 percent of their shares, Assev said. The price range is expected to be between eight and 10 Norwegian kroner, he said.

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