Sales have doubled in five years, and Opera has gone from red ink to an operating profit that should reach at least $50 million this year. Cash generation is excellent, and the company has been aggressively buying back its shares for the past two years, in addition to paying a dividend.

So much for the good story. But there's undoubtedly more to scratch the surface and investigate. Based in Norway, but registered in the Cayman Islands with subsidiaries in the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong, Opera is in fact controlled by Chinese billionaire James Yahui Zhou.

Yahui Zhou's background is certainly astonishing. Founder of Kunlun Tech, a Chinese video game developer listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange, he was at one time the reference shareholder in the gay dating application Grindr - then floated on the stock exchange via a SPACI. then floated on the stock exchange via a SPAC, see our March 2023 article on this subject - and also tried his hand at banking activities specializing in so-called "predatory lending".

Under his leadership, and under the convenient guise of "incubator" and "fintech", Opera launched a similar retail loan-sharking business, focusing on markets such as India, Nigeria and Egypt. Four years ago, the company was in the crosshairs of the notorious short-sellers Hindenburg Research. The latter, to say the least, had identified a number of confounding elements.

With such a background, one would expect nothing less from Yahui Zhou. The businessman had distinguished himself with his tendentious style the day after Opera's IPO, immediately redirecting $40 million of the newly-raised funds to other entities he controlled, notably a company developing a karaoke application.

Provided that it is honest - which would certainly require meticulous investigation in order to be supported - the way in which Opera reports its sales nevertheless suggests that its historical Internet browser business is in good health. This should once again arouse the interest of due diligence enthusiasts.