Opera Software Reshuffles After Struggle

Key shareholders in Opera Software ASA have reshuffled the board of directors after a reported power struggle between board members and the company's chief executive and founder, Jon S. von Tetzchner.

Five of the seven board members, including chairman Nils A. Foldal, were fired at a shareholder's meeting Thursday, company spokesman Tor Odland said Friday.

They were replaced by three new board members, and the total number of board members was reduced to five.

Norwegian business daily Dagens Naeringsliv reported that the move came after the ousted board members failed to remove Tetzchner as head of the company, which makes Web browsers for personal computers, mobile phones and personal digital assistants.

The paper reported that the board was growing impatient with Tetzchner because of the company's poor performance -- the share price has dropped more than 50 percent in the past year.

The chief executive declined to comment on the power struggle but told Dagens Naeringsliv he had no plans to step down.

"I feel that I have an important job for the company, shareholders and the board," Tetzchner was quoted as saying.

Tetzchner was not available for an interview.

Opera's browsers are innovative -- they sported the ability to open multiple tabs in a single window long before any other major browser. But the software's market share has remained negligible, especially after Mozilla's Firefox emerged as a viable alternative to industry leader Internet Explorer from Microsoft Corp.

The battle on Windows computers got even more crowded this month with the entry of Apple Inc.'s Safari. Apple said users downloaded more than 1 million copies of the Windows Safari in the first 48 hours.

The Opera board reshuffle was backed by shareholders holding 80 percent of the company's shares, including Tetzchner, who holds a 15 percent stake through the investment group Amadeus Invest II AS.

William J. Raduchel, a former executive at Time Warner Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc., was appointed as the new chairman.

Opera Software shares were up nearly 8 percent to 15.50 kroner ($2.58) in Friday trading in Oslo.