The secretive Israeli spyware company NSO Group gained notoriety following allegations that its hacking tool Pegasus was used by governments like Saudi Arabia and Mexico to track dissidents and journalists.
A few months later, the company was acquired for $1 billion by its cofounders Shalev Hulio and Omri Lavie alongside the private equity firm Novalpina Capital. To get that deal done, the founders raised money through a debt offering led by Credit Suisse and Jefferies.
The banks reportedly struggled to sell the debt due to ethical concerns, but in the end it found buyers in mutual funds including BlackRock and Principal Financial Group, as well as collateralized loan obligation (CLO) management firms Ellington Management Group and Saratoga Investment Corp.
Read the full investigation here: The founders of a billion-dollar Israeli spyware startup accused of helping Saudi Arabia attack dissidents are funding a web of new companies that hack into smart speakers, routers, and other devices
Why would so many financial institutions align themselves with a company with a contentious reputation?
NSO Group is high growth, and it's wildly profitable, according to a person who saw the debt offering circulated by the company earlier this year who shared its contents with Business Insider. And it did that all with just 60 customers.
This is the first time that NSO Group's profits and customer breakdown have been revealed publicly. Here's a look at what we found.
NSO Group had around $125 million in profit in 2018
All of the came from just 60 customers, mostly from the Middle East