Berkeley Research Group queuing to control NSO private equity owners

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NSO Group Technology Update

The consulting firm Berkeley Research Group has lined up to control the private equity fund that owns the Israeli spyware maker NSO Group, a move that will give the Californian company an important say in the future of NSO.

Investors in the Novalpina Capital private equity fund that acquired the surveillance company in 2019 this month took a very unusual step Expulsion of Novalpina Because of a dispute between its co-founders.

Two people familiar with the matter said that the largest investor in the 1 billion euro fund has now chosen BRG to replace Novalpina, but the decision has not yet been formally approved and investors must vote on the appointment before August 6.

If appointed, BRG will be authorized to close Novalpina’s fund and return the funds to investors by selling the three companies it owns (including NSO) at the highest possible price. BRG declined to comment.

NSO faces a lawsuit from Facebook, accusing it of using WhatsApp to send malware to more than 1,000 customers, which could complicate any sales process.

This month one Report According to the news non-profit organization Forbidden Stories and 17 media partners, NSO’s software was used to attack the phones of journalists, activists, and people close to the murdered journalist Jamal Kashuji.

The NSO disputed Facebook’s allegations and described the Forbidden Stories report as “full of false assumptions and unproven theories.”

In addition to NSO, the Novalpina Fund also owns the Estonian gaming company Olympic Entertainment Group and the French pharmaceutical company Laboratoire XO

Four people associated with Novalpina, including the two co-founders of the private equity firm Stephen Peel and Stefan Kowski, have a seat on the NSO’s board of directors. Two people involved in the process said that if the RBG deal is agreed, it may allow consulting firms to replace them.

After investors concluded that the relationship between its co-founders Peel, Kowski, and Bastian Lueken had deteriorated, the divestiture of the private equity firm’s control of the fund was a very unusual step, marking the months of turmoil in Novalpina Reach a climax. One person present said that they could no longer cooperate in investment.

Two people familiar with the matter said that the vote to remove Novalpina was supported by investors who accounted for 99.6% of the fund’s value.

Novalpina acquired NSO Group from the private equity firm Francisco Partners in February 2019, and the transaction valued the company at $1 billion.

BRG is headquartered in California, and based on its website, advises companies on corporate financing, performance improvement, and disputes and investigations.

The website stated that its asset management business “acts as a deputy consultant or alternative asset manager, specializing in the management of challenged or tail-end investments” and aims to help “maximize the return on investors’ capital.”

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