Pegasus scandal: Private equity firm behind NSO Group to be liquidated

Reports say Novalpina is being dissolved to put an end to an ‘internal war’ between its co-founders

The NSO Group, and another Israeli company, Candiru, acted “contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”, the US commerce department said | File Photo

The private equity firm that owns NSO Group, the military-grade spyware-maker at the heart of the Pegasus scandal, is being dissolved, according to reports.

London-based Novalpina Capital, which bought NSO in 2019, is being liquidated after a dispute between its co-founders.

The fund owns Israel-based NSO as well as the Estonian casino company Olympic Entertainment and the French pharmaceutical business Laboratoire X.O, according to the Financial Times newspaper.

Its liquidation leaves the future ownership of NSO unclear.


The FT reported that Novalpina’s investors “have until August 6 to decide whether to liquidate the fund with a fire sale of its assets, or appoint a third party to take control of it”.

Also read: Pegasus aftermath: How to check yourself if you are being spied on

French business daily Les Echos reported that Novalpina was being liquidated to put an end to an “internal war” between its co-founders, Stephen Peel, Bastian Lueken and Stefan Kowski. But the Pegasus scandal “may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back”, it added.

Earlier this month, an international media consortium, including The Wire in India, claimed that Pegasus was used to spy on the phones of human rights activists, journalists and even heads of state, including French president Emmanuel Macron.

In India the Congress has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “treason” and compromising national security following the revelations that dozens of Indians were potential targets of snooping.

NSO has denied any wrongdoing, labelling the allegations “false”, and insists the software is intended for use only in fighting terrorism and other crimes.