US defense electronics firm, L3Harris Technologies is reportedly trying to acquire Israeli spyware company NSO Group, French website "Intelligence Online" reported without specifying it sources.
While no financial details were divulged, NSO Group was earlier seeking a buyer for more than $1 billion. Integrity Fund was in talks to buy NSO at a valuation of $1.5 billion including an injection of $300 million, according to the papers in a court case in January, Israeli newspaper Globes reported.
NSO is most famous for its Pegasus software that impregnates itself in mobile phones and transmits data to its operators. The Saudi government reportedly used Pegasus to spy on comumnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was later brutally killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, allegedly by a Saudi hit squad.
NSO was blacklisted by the US Commerce Department in November 2021 for allegedly working against US interests abroad. In order to protect its Pegasus spyware, NSO has been making efforts to sell its intellectual property and employees to a US company. At the same time, the company is seeking to resolve the lawsuits and the debt left by one of the company's investors in the Novalpina Fund amounting to an estimated $500 million.
Florida-based L3Harris is traded on the NYSE with a market cap of $43.7 billion. The company's share price fell 2.7% after news of the negotiations were published.
L3Harris is the sixth largest aerospace and defense supplier in the US following the merger of L3 and Harris in 2019. It receives US Department of Defense contract in electronics, communications and C4ISR.