Steven Mnuchin’s private equity group buys cyber security company

Steven Mnuchin’s private equity group has made its first buyout since he stepped down as US Treasury secretary in the Trump administration, taking a controlling interest in mobile cyber security company Zimperium for $525mn.

Liberty Strategic Capital, Mnuchin’s firm, has focused on cyber security with four minority investments since its launch last year. Mnuchin raised $2.5bn from a group of backers that included Japan’s SoftBank, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala.

Zimperium, founded by two Israeli security experts, provides companies with technology to stop criminals from hacking the mobile devices of their employees to obtain sensitive information.

The Dallas-based company claims it is capable of thwarting mobile attacks such as the one carried out by NSO Group’s Pegasus, the Israeli military-grade spyware manufacturer that created software to trace the phones of journalists and human rights activists around the world.

“It’s clear that mobile is the new front line for cyber security,” Mnuchin said. “We believe Zimperium has positioned itself as the leader in securing mobile endpoints and applications.”

Prior to joining Donald Trump’s administration, Mnuchin worked for several years on Wall Street, climbing to the top ranks of investment bank Goldman Sachs.

He left Goldman in 2002 and later launched hedge fund Dune Capital Management and a film studio called Dune Entertainment. Following the 2008 financial crisis, he went on to turn around the failed California-based lender IndyMac, which was later acquired by CIT Group for $3.4bn. 

Mnuchin was not the first Treasury secretary to have previously worked at an investment bank. Many have then left government to join the lucrative world of private equity buyouts.

John Snow, who served under President George W Bush, moved to Cerberus Capital Management, while Tim Geithner, Barack Obama’s first Treasury secretary, is president of Warburg Pincus, which will sell its stake in Zimperium.

Jack Lew, Obama’s second Treasury secretary, is a managing partner at private equity group Lindsay Goldberg, and Hank Paulson, who also served under Bush, is executive chair of a climate investment fund at TPG.

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