Updates from NSO Group Technologies
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The consulting firm Berkeley Research Group has been set up to take control of the private equity fund owned by Israeli spyware maker NSO Group, in a move that will give the California company an important say in the future of NSO.
Investors in the Novalpina Capital private equity fund that bought this oversight company in 2019 have taken the extraordinary step expel Novalpina due to a dispute between its co-founders.
The largest investors of the € 1 billion fund have now chosen BRG to replace Novalpina, two people with knowledge said, although the decision has not yet been formally approved and investors have until August 6 to vote on the appointment.
If appointed, BRG will be given a mandate to terminate Novalpina’s fund and return the money to investors by selling the three companies it owns, including NSO, for the highest possible price. BRG declined to comment.
NSO is facing a lawsuit from Facebook over allegations that it used WhatsApp to send malware to more than 1,000 customers, which could complicate any sales process.
This month a report by the non-profit journalism Forbidden Stories and 17 media partners said NSO’s software is being used to target the phones of journalists, activists and people close to the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
NSO disputed Facebook’s allegations and described the Forbidden Stories report as “full of false assumptions and unconfirmed theories”.
In addition to NSO, the Novalpina fund owns the Estonian gambling company Olympic Entertainment Group and the French pharmaceutical company Laboratoire XO
Four people connected to Novalpina, including two of the founders of the private equity firm Stephen Peel and Stefan Kowski, have seats on the board of NSO. The RBG agreement is likely to enable the consulting firm to replace it, two people said at the trial.
The move to take control of the private equity firm’s fund, an extremely unusual move that marked the culmination of months of unrest at Novalpina, comes after investors concluded that the relationship between its co-founders, Peel , Kowski and Bastian Lueken, has deteriorated. so much so that they could no longer work together on investments, a person present said.
The votes to oust Novalpina are backed by investors who make up 99.6 percent of the fund’s value, two people with knowledge said.
Novalpina acquired NSO Group from private equity firm Francisco Partners in February 2019, in a deal that the company valued at $ 1 billion.
Headquartered in California, BRG advises companies on corporate finance, performance improvement and disputes and investigations according to its website.
Its asset management business “acts as sub-advisors or replacement asset managers specializing in managing end-to-end challenges or investments,” the website says, helping to “maximize return on capital for investors.”