London-based private equity firm Novalpina Capital that holds a majority stake in the spyware firm NSO Group will be dissolved after a months-long dispute between its partners, Sky News reported. The management of the assets of the firm are reportedly taken over by a third party and the manager of its fund has been removed.
The Israeli NSO Group had come under fire after an international media consortium alleged that its software Pegasus is linked to the mass surveillance of journalists and rights defenders. The Washington Post, the Guardian, Le Monde and other news outlets that collaborated on the investigation led by journalism non-profit organisation Forbidden Stories, reported on a leaked list of up to 50,000 phone numbers believed to have been identified as people of interest by clients of NSO since 2016, not all of whom were hacked.
However, the company has denied all allegations calling it a "planned and well-orchestrated media campaign led by Forbidden Stories and pushed by special interest groups". Denying the list of names published by several media outlets, NSO said, "The list is not a list of targets or potential targets of Pegasus. Any claim that a name in the list is necessarily related to a Pegasus target or Pegasus potential target is erroneous and false."
Meanwhile, the dissolution of Novalpina isn’t directly connected to the NSO controversy although Sky News report said citing insiders that it could impact the future ownership of such a “controversial business”. Such revelations can make it difficult for the UK company to sell the NSO stake.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report,
Furthermore, Novalpina’s three principals - Stephen Peel, Bastian Lueken and Stefan Kowski had been at loggerheads about the remaining investment of its maiden funds, the report added.
Novalpina could not be reached for comment by Sky News