Independent trio act on $1.2bn Chinese bid for Opera Software

Chinese firm Fangda Partners is working alongside Norway’s Thommessen on Qihoo 360’s $1.2bn acquisition of Norwegian software company Opera.

The offer has been made by a consortium of Chinese companies led by Chinese internet security company Qihoo 360. Fangda, led by Beijing corporate partner Tan Peng, is acting for existing client Qihoo 360 and the consortium, which also includes online game company Beijing Kunlun Tech. Oslo-based Thommessen, fielding corporate partner Baard Bale, advised the Chinese consortium on Norwegian law.

Rival Norwegian firm Schjødt is acting as the legal adviser to long-standing client Opera. Partner Erling Christiansen was leading the team.

This deal adds to a list of outbound M&A transactions by Chinese companies in Europe at the beginning of this year. Last month, ChemChina made a $1bn bid for German industrial machinery maker KraussMaffei Group and offered another $43bn for Swiss agribusiness Syngenta. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hengeler Mueller and Zhong Lun have taken roles in the German deal, while Davis Polk & Wardwell, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett have worked alongside Bär & Karrer and Homburger on the Swiss transaction.

Background to the deal

Qihoo 360 has had a busy a few months since the second half of 2015, when the company delisted from New York Stock Exchange through a $9.3bn take-private deal. In that transaction, Latham & Watkins represented the company, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom together with Jun He and Maples and Calder acted for the special committee, while Kirkland & Ellis and Fangda advised the buyout consortium led by Qihoo 360’s chief executive Hongyi Zhou.