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A private equity company that owns the NSO Group, the Israeli firm at the center of the Pegasus spyware scandal, is being liquidated, a source shared.
London-based Novalpina Capital, which bought the NSO Group in 2019, is being dissolved after a dispute between its co-founders, the source told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday.
Its liquidation leaves the future ownership of NSO unclear, just as the company is grappling with the fallout of a vast electronic espionage scandal.
Novalpina also owns the Estonian casino group Olympic Entertainment and French pharmaceutical company X.O.
The Financial Times reported that Novalpina’s investors “have until Aug. 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.”
French business daily Les Echos reported that Novalpina was being liquidated to put an end to an “internal war” between its founders.
But “the espionage scandal may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back,” it added.
The NSO Group has been at the center of a storm this month after an international media investigation claimed its Pegasus software was used to spy on the phones of human rights activists, journalists and even heads of state.
NSO has denied any wrongdoing, labeling the allegations “false.”
It insists its software is intended for use only in fighting terrorism and other crimes.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was due to leave Wednesday for Paris, where he is set to discuss the scandal with his French counterpart Florence Parly.
French President Emmanuel Macron has changed his phone after his number appeared on a list of potential targets.
he phone numbers of French President Emmanuel Macron, former Prime Minister Eduard Philippe and at least 14 ministers are featured on a list of Israeli-made Pegasus spyware used by a Moroccan security service, Le Monde reported Tuesday.
One of the two iPhone numbers of Emmanuel Macron, Eduard Philippe and government ministers were hacked in 2019 for possible surveillance through the Israeli company, according to the report. Morocco, a former French colony, is known to share friendly relations with France.
The numbers of the French political leadership are part of a list of more than 50,000 telephone numbers investigated by an international consortium of 17 news media outlets. According to reports, Macron has been using the number regularly at least since 2017 when he came to power.
The possible infection by Pegasus could not be confirmed as Le Monde said it did not have access to the head of state’s handset to carry technical checks to detect traces of the spyware.
The president’s office told Le Monde that “if the facts are true, they are obviously very serious” while vowing to investigate the revelations.