Pegasus spyware owner Novalpina is liquidated after the internal bankruptcy is not resolved | Business news


The buyout firm behind Pegasus surveillance technology, which sparked worldwide outcry over its use last week, is set to be broken up after its partners failed to settle a bitter month-long dispute.

Sky News has learned that London-based Novalpina Capital is to be replaced as the manager of its fund and that the management of its assets will be taken over by a third party instead.

According to city sources, the development, which has yet to be published, is to be formalized in the first half of August through a further vote among the Novalpina fund investors – or limited partners (LPs).

Any attempt to sell Novalpina’s NSO stake is likely to prove diabolically complicated

It will mark another twist in the escalating scandal surrounding the activities of NSO, whose Pegasus branded spyware was used to infect targets’ mobile devices in order to extract messages and record calls.

Revelations The use of the technology against journalists and human rights defenders last week sparked international condemnation.

Research by the nonprofit journalism organization Forbidden Stories found that celebrities such as French President Emmanuel Macron and Roula Khalaf, editor of the Financial Times, were included in a database of names selected for possible surveillance by NSO clients.

NSO reportedly denied that the names on the list were targeted, insisting that governments were responsible for the use of the technology.

Novalpina’s liquidation is not directly related to the NSO scandal, but it does raise questions about the future ownership and governance of such a controversial company.

According to insiders, the process of removing Novalpina as manager of the fund will take at least several months.

Screenshot from the Novalpina website 15.06.21
Novalpina was founded to invest in medium-sized companies across Europe

Any attempt to sell Novalpina’s NSO stake will prove devilishly complicated given the recent revelations, they added.

Sky News announced earlier this year that the three directors of Novalpina – Stephen Peel, Bastian Lueken and Stefan Kowski – were in contradiction about the provision of the rest of his maiden fund.

In addition to NSO, Novalpina owns Laboratoire XO, a pharmaceutical company, and Olympic Entertainment Group, a gaming company.

swell pointed out that Mr. Peel had been preferred by many LPs to remain at the top of the fund, but this had proven impossible given the irreconcilable differences between Mr. Peel and his co-partners.

Founded to invest in so-called midsize companies across Europe, Novalpina said at the time of launch that its directors combined have more than 50 years of experience in private equity investing.

Mr. Peel was a former partner at TPG, one of the largest buyout firms in the world, Mr. Kowski was an executive at Centerbridge Partners and Mr. Lueken led the European investment business at Platinum Equity.

The trio reportedly invested € 25 million each as part of the launch of their fund, aiming to invest in assets that mainstream private equity firms have ignored or overlooked.

The NSO Group was by far Novalpina’s most prominent deal when it took control of the cybersecurity firm in 2019.

Several months after the deal, Novalpina announced a new governance structure for NSOs and committed to aligning with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

That came just days after Mr. Peel’s wife, Yana, resigned as general manager of London’s Serpentine Art Gallery, saying the NSO ownership controversy had sparked “misguided personal attacks on me and my family.”

Novalpina could not be reached on Tuesday for comment.

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