Browser pioneer Opera Software to float

10 February 2004 Norwegian web browser pioneer Opera has filed for a public listing on the Oslo Stock Exchange after unveiling a sharp rise in annual revenues.

“After developing and refining the technology and commercial side for nine years, Opera Software is now ready for public listing,” said Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner. He added that the initial public offering (IPO) would also give the company “more flexibility” to develop its position in the Internet market.

For example, Opera recently released a browser for mobile devices featuring ‘small screen rendering’, a technology that can re-format web pages to fit the small displays of smartphones and handheld computers.

But Opera is best known for its desktop PC browser, for which it claims about eight million users worldwide. It represents one of the main rivals to Microsoft’s ubiquitous Internet Explorer, alongside open source alternatives such as Mozilla and Konqueror.

The Oslo-based company reported fourth quarter revenues of 28.8 million kroner (€3.27m), a year-on-year revenue increase of 108.7%, while full year revenues for 2003 reached 78.5 million kroner (€8.9m), up 53.8% on 2002. Net income weighed in at 1.2m kroner (€136,000).

The IPO is expected in March 2004 and has further fuelled hopes that the recovery in the technology sector is gathering pace. Opera’s decision follows two recent stock offerings in the technology sector.

At the end of January, French telecoms and Internet service provider Iliad floated on the Paris Bourse.

That followed the October 2003 flotation of Edinburgh-based Wolfson Microelectronics, which designs chips for mobile phones and consumer electronics devices. It was the first technology company to list on the London Stock Exchange in 18 months.

A substantial proportion of Opera’s revenue comes from the sale of browsers embedded in smartphones, a fast-growing sector of the mobile phone market which some analysts predict will overtake that of handheld computers. Nokia’s 6600 smartphone, released in October 2003, was the first to have Opera installed as the default web browsing application.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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