According to media reports, the Israeli software manufacturer is considering a sale and is apparently talking to potential investors. There is also a realignment of the company and the abandonment of the controversial spyware Pegasus up for debate, reports Bloomberg News, citing negotiating circles. The background to this is probably the company’s tense financial situation.
The NSO Group is negotiating according to the report with investment funds through refinancing, but also a sale and restructuring are in the room. The development of Pegasus could be stopped and NSO focused on cyber defense systems and drone technology. The company and the financial houses involved did not want to comment on the reports.
Business model: surveillance trojan
The NSO Group provides surveillance software for governments and government agencies. Applications like Pegasus exploit vulnerabilities in software to infect target people’s devices with Trojans. Pegasus hit the headlines around the world this summer after it became known that heads of state and government, as well as at least 180 journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists and diplomats were being spied on using Pegasus.
The company is accused of selling the software to authoritarian governments who use it to spy on opposition members and journalists. The NSO Group regularly denies these allegations. According to media reports, the federal government is also one of the customers of the NSO Group. The BKA is also said to have bought Pegasus.
The worldwide excitement about Pegasus has not been without consequences. The US government has imposed sanctions on the NSO Group. Israel has drastically cut the list of countries to which cyber technology can be exported. In the US, Facebook and Apple have sued the NSO Group.
Bad for business
This is likely to have an impact on the business of the NSO Group: Pegasus is the company’s largest division and, according to Bloomberg, accounts for around half of sales that are expected to be around 230 million US dollars this year. The NSO Group is reportedly at risk of being unable to service its debts.
Co-founders Shalev Hulio and Omri Lavie bought back the majority stake in the company from investor Francisco Partners in 2019. The NSO Group was valued at around one billion US dollars. The founders had borrowed several hundred million US dollars to finance it.