Is Facebook Lining Up Another Billion-Dollar Buy?

Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) reported attempts to acquire Opera may have to be scaled up as the software company’s valuation grows and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) remains an interested party. Facebook has been attempting to work on seriously improving its mobile footprint after growing post-IPO worries that the social network was in quick need of monetizing itself on those devices. Opera makes advanced mobile phone software technology and creates web browsers that work across several platforms, including mobile phones, tablets, PCs, and televisions.

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While it would fit in perfectly in Facebook’s arsenal, the acquisition may cost the newly public company over a billion dollars. The stock of Opera, listed on the Norway stock exchange, rose 26 percent on Tuesday on takeover talks. According to Norwegian bank DNB, a reasonable buying price will have to be double Friday’s closing level of 68.6 crowns, valuing the firm at $1.35 billion. Danske Bank and ABG Sundal Collier both predict a price between 50 and 60 crowns a share, which pegs the whole company between $1 billion and $1.2 billion, according to Reuters.

In addition, Google already has extensive relationships with Opera and would not want Facebook to walk away with what could be a good investment for the search engine as well. Google is Opera’s default search partner for Opera Mini and Opera Mobile.

Opera programs work on multiple operating systems and are available on most phones, including the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry, Google Android devices. It is highly popular in the growing markets of Brazil, India, and other Asian countries as its mobile web browser can compress data and save consumers on data charges. It already has almost 200 million Mobile and Mini subscribers.

Another point that makes the company highly attractive for Facebook is its technology to better display advertisements. Facebook has said that fixing its non-existent mobile advertising to add a real revenue stream is one of the business and tech challenges it faces.

“Opera would be sensible for Facebook on several levels,” Arctic Securities told Reuters. “It would enhance the now limited mobile experience of Facebook, improve Facebook’s mobile monetization problem, help Facebook retain online game developers leaving the social network over the lack of a mobile platform and further improve Facebook’s ability to target ads.”

While Opera officials declined to comment on the talk, company chief executive Lars Boilesen had said last year that he would like more cooperation with Facebook.

Facebook had bought photo-sharing app Instagram for roughly $1 billion in a combination of cash and stock last month.

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