Investment firm behind scandal-hit NSO to be liquidated

An aerial view shows the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel July 22, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. — Reuters pic
An aerial view shows the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel July 22, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. — Reuters pic

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PARIS, July 28 — The private equity firm that owns NSO, the Israeli spyware company at the heart of the Pegasus scandal, is being liquidated, a source close to the company told AFP today, confirming media reports.  

London-based Novalpina Capital, which bought the NSO Group in 2019, is being dissolved after a dispute between its co-founders. 

Its liquidation leaves the future ownership of NSO unclear, just as the company is grappling with the fallout of a vast electronic espionage scandal. 

Novalpina also owns the Estonian casino group Olympic Entertainment and French pharmaceutical company X.O. 

The Financial Times reported that Novalpina’s investors “have until August 6 to decide whether to liquidate the fund with a fire sale of its assets, or appoint a third party to take control of it”.

French business daily Les Echos reported that Novalpina was being liquidated to put an end to an “internal war” between its founders.

But “the espionage scandal may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back”, it added. 

The NSO Group has been at the centre of a storm this month after an international media investigation claimed its Pegasus software was used to spy on the phones of human rights activists, journalists and even heads of state.

NSO has denied any wrongdoing, labelling the allegations “false”.

It insists its software is intended for use only in fighting terrorism and other crimes.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz was due to leave today for Paris, where he is set to discuss the scandal with his French counterpart Florence Parly. 

French President Emmanuel Macron has changed his phone after his number appeared on a list of potential targets for the spyware’s clients. — AFP

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