Opera CEO says markets developing positively despite Russia troubles

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s Opera Software, a maker of internet browsers and mobile phone advertising solutions, currently sees positive market developments despite difficulties in Russia and a reorganization of its development teams, CEO Lars Boilesen said.

“We feel that the market in general is pretty good right now,” Boilesen told Reuters. “We have informed the market about the situation in Russia and said the economic situation there is not optimal. This has not changed during the past few months.”

Opera disappointed investors in February when it presented below-forecast fourth-quarter earnings and set revenue and earnings targets for 2015 that were far below expectations, sending its share price down 44 percent.

“But we feel that things are going very well for us right now. We are executing on what we have said we would. Things are very positive now and we are moving ahead full throttle,” Boilesen said on Wednesday.

Opera’s share price has risen by about 40 percent to around 71 Norwegian crowns since hitting a 2015 low in early March, but is still down 33 percent from its January high.

The company is currently in the midst of reorganizing its developing teams, affecting about 70 jobs that will be cut or moved, of which 30 Norwegian jobs are shifted to Poland.

“I see that this has been interpreted as a sign of things going worse for Opera at the moment, forcing us to move more of our business to low cost countries. That is not correct at all, I can guarantee it,” Boilesen said.

“Cost cutting has not at all been a part of the process here,” he added.

Poland is the main hub for developing the Opera desktop browser.

“This is a big deal internally, because it’s never pleasant to let people go this way. But it has no effect what so ever on what we have communicated earlier about expected growth going forward,” Boilesen said.

The company’s browsers are among the most popular to use in Russia, a market hit by Western sanctions and a weakening rouble, but the CEO said he still took an optimistic view on business going forward.

Opera is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings on May 13.

Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg, editing by Terje Solsvik