Aug 16, 2017

Blackstone bails on controversial cybersecurity deal

World's Direction / flickr

The Blackstone Group has ended talks to acquire a 40% stake in Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group for around $400 million, Reuters reports. The deal, which also would have involved a 10% stake purchase by ClearSky, was expected to provide a partial exit for current NSO majority owner Francisco Partners. An NSO spokesperson says the company is not currently involved in investor talks.

  • Why it matters: NSO is the company whose software was allegedly used by the Mexican government to spy on opposition lawmakers, journalists and human rights lawyers (something that Mexican President Peña Nieto denies). It also once employed former U.S. National Security advisor Michael Flynn as a paid advisor. Blackstone's possible involvement had sparked some complaints from digital privacy advocates, although it's unclear if those efforts contributed to Blackstone's decision to back away.
  • Bottom line: "Serious investors who have done their due diligence may be thinking twice about just how problematic this category of investments could be to their image and their bottom line." – Citizen Lab researcher John Scott-Railton, via Reuters.

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There are warning signs that Nevada could be Iowa all over again

Former Sen. Harry Reid (D) lines up to cast an early vote for the upcoming Nevada Democratic presidential caucus. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The alarms are increasingly sounding over Nevada's Democratic caucus, which is just five days away.

Why it matters: Similar issues to the ones that plagued Iowa's caucus seem to be rearing their ugly heads, the WashPost reports.

China tries to contain coronavirus, as Apple warns of earnings impact

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

As China pushes to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus — placing around 780 million people under travel restrictions, per CNN — the economic repercussions continue to be felt globally as companies like Apple warn of the impact from the lack of manufacturing and consumer demand in China.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,775 people and infected more than 70,000 others, mostly in mainland China. There are some signs that new cases are growing at a slower rate now, although the World Health Organization said Monday it's "too early to tell" if this will continue.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health

Apple will miss quarterly earnings estimates due to coronavirus

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple issued a rare earnings warning on Monday, saying it would not meet quarterly revenue expectations due to the impact of the coronavirus, which will limit iPhone production and limit product demand in China.

Why it matters: Lots of companies rely on China for production, but unlike most U.S. tech companies, Apple also gets a significant chunk of its revenue from sales in China.