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Internet services company Opera has come under a short-sell assault based on allegations of predatory lending practices by its fintech products in Africa.
Hindenburg Research issued a report claiming (among other things) that Opera’s finance products in Nigeria and Kenya have run afoul of prudent consumer practices and Google Play Store rules for lending apps.
Hindenburg - ? - NYC - Analyst - Nate
Hindenburg — which is based in NYC and managed by financial analyst Nate Anderson — went on to suggest Opera’s U.S. listed stock was grossly overvalued.
That’s a primer on the key info, though there are several additional shades of the who, why, and where of this story to break down, before getting to what Opera and Hindenburg had to say.
Start - Opera - Ownership - Scope - Norway
A good start is Opera’s ownership and scope. Founded in Norway, the company is an internet services provider, largely centered around its Opera browser.
Opera was acquired in 2016 for $600 million by a consortium of Chinese investors, led by current Opera CEO Yahui Zhou.
Years - Opera - IPO - NASDAQ - Shares
Two years later, Opera went public in an IPO on NASDAQ, where its shares currently trade.
Though Opera’s web platform isn’t widely used in the U.S. — where it has less than 1% of the browser market — it has been number-one in Africa, and more recently a distant second to Chrome, according to StatCounter.
Back - Browser - Popularity - Opera - Venture-spree
On the back of its browser popularity, Opera went on an African venture-spree in 2019, introducing a suite of products and startup verticals in Nigeria and Kenya, with intent to scale more broadly across the continent.
In Nigeria these include motorcycle ride-hail service ORide and delivery app OFood.
Services - Opera - Fintech - OPay - Nigeria
Central to these services are Opera’s fintech apps: OPay in Nigeria and OKash and Opesa in Kenya — which offer payment and lending options.
Fintech focused VC and startups have been at the center of a decade long tech-boom in several core economies in Africa, namely Kenya...
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