Blackstone $BSXW to buy stake in NSO Group from Franscisco Partners LP for 400 Million Dollars
After global outrage over the Mexican government's use of spyware on Mexican civilians, Francisco Partners LP wishes to sell out a portion of its stake in the NSO Group, an Israeli Quasi-government spy agency/corporation, to Blackstone Investments. The NSO Group's software was found on the phones of various human rights investigators and members of the Mexican press. If succesful, the sale to Blackstone LP will involve a 400 percent profit (Francisco Partners bought the NSO Group for 120 million), and NSO GROUP will still be in part owned by Francisco Partners LP. Selling only a partial stake in NSO Group, Francisco Partners LP may be in a position to enjoy the best of both owning the NSO Group, which is currently dominating the industry of tactical espionage, while protecting itself from further risk should governments cancel contracts for spyware due to public pressure.
II. Citizen's Lab Asks Blackstone to Not Buy NSO Group
Blackstone LLC has no experience governing complex military software developers. While the 40 percent ownership would give Blackstone a controlling stake in NSO, the company's inexperience in managing a militarized operation is seen as a potential liability for the public. More incidents like what occured in Mexico could take place where no one is held accountable for the abuse of specialized software. Blackstone is also being lobbied by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab to not buy the NSO Group stake.
Antonio Tizapa, father of Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, noted that he and other Ayotzinapa parents have long suspected that their communications along that of the investigators were hacked by the Mexican government. He noted that Francisco Partners must be shuffling responsibility away from them and seeking to insulate themselves from the fallout of the Mexican government using the technology against innocent civilians. He called on both companies (Blackstone who may purchase NSO) and Francisco Partners to provide safeguards on the use of their technology against civilians. Finally, the confirmed use of the technology against Organization of American States investigators reviewing the Ayotzinapa case is a violation of international norms.