Israel: NSO Group in talks with U.S. investors over possible deal

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Israel IsraelNSO Group, an Israeli spyware company, stated on Wednesday that it is in talks with a number of US entities about “different financial maneuvers,” confirming media rumors that it was considering selling its assets.

After revelations that its tools had been used by governments and other agencies to spy on people’s cellphones, the surveillance firm that makes the Pegasus software has been embroiled in controversy. According to NSO, its technology aids in the capture of terrorists and criminals.

The Haaretz newspaper stated that NSO was in talks to sell its assets to US venture capital firm Integrity Partners, which would pour $300 million into the company, citing a letter of intent. “A few U.S.-based funds have expressed strong interest in the company, and the company is in talks with them all,” an NSO spokesperson told Reuters, declining to name Integrity.

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The ownership of NSO has changed several times. It was most recently purchased by Novalpina Capital, a UK-based private equity firm, in 2019, with Berkeley Research Group (BRG) taking over management of Novalpina, and thus of NSO, in July of last year. At the beginning of this year, the corporation also named a new chairman.

After the US Commerce Department blacklisted NSO in November, Haaretz reported that a new business plan would be developed. The Commerce Department said NSO sold spyware to foreign governments, who subsequently used it to target government officials, journalists, and others, putting the company’s export prospects in jeopardy. According to the newspaper, Integrity was collaborating with the US government to have the company removed from the blacklist. Apple (AAPL.O) is one of the companies that has sued NSO, alleging that it broke US laws by hacking into iPhone software.

NSO has also been chastised by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O), Google parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), and Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O). Following concerns that Pegasus had been unlawfully utilized domestically, Israel’s attorney general ordered a probe into police surveillance practices last week.

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