Berkeley Research Group Goes Online to Manage NSO Private Equity Owner

NSO Group Technologies Updates

The consulting firm Berkeley Research Group has been put online to take control of the private equity fund owned by Israeli spyware maker NSO Group, in a move that will give Californian society an important insight into NSO’s future. .

Investors in the private equity fund Novalpina Capital who bought the supervisory company in 2019 this month have taken the very unusual step of removing Novalpina due to a dispute between its co-founders.

The largest investors of the 1 billion euro Fund have chosen BRG to replace Novalpina, said two people with knowledge of the matter, although the decision has not yet been formally approved and investors will have to vote on the appointment until August 6th.

If appointed, BRG will receive a mandate to liquidate 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 conducting a Facebook lawsuit 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 nonprofit Journalism Stories and 17 media partners said the NSO software was used to target the phones of journalists, activists and people close to the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

NSO disputed Facebook’s allegations, describing the Forbidden Stories report as “full of erroneous assumptions and uncorroborated theories.”

Alongside NSO, the Novalpina fund owns the Estonian gaming company Olympic Entertainment Group and the French pharmaceutical activity Laboratoire XO

Four people connected to Novalpina, including two of the private equity firm’s co-founders Stephen Peel and Stefan Kowski, have sat on the NSO’s board. The RBG agreement, if agreed, would likely allow the replacement consulting firm, said two people involved in the process.

The move to strip control of the fund from the private equity firm, an extremely unusual move that marked the culmination of months of turmoil in Novalpina, came after investors concluded that relations between its co-founders, Peel, Kowski and Bastian Lueken had deteriorated so much that they could no longer work together on investments, said one person present.

The vote to remove Novalpina was backed by investors representing 99.6 per cent of the fund’s value, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Novalpina bought the NSO Group from the private company Francisco Partners in February 2019, in a deal that valued the company at $ 1bn.

BRG, which is headquartered in California, provides advice to companies on corporate finance, performance improvement and disputes and investigations according to its website.

Their asset management business “acts as subcontractors or managers of replacement assets specializing in the management of challenging or cutting-edge investments,” the site says, acting to help “maximize the return on capital to the investors “.

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