Nokia seeking to sell luxury phone subsidiary Vertu: FT

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This handset is the creation of Vertu for Parisian jewellery house Boucheron, designed and launched to mark the boutique's 150th anniversary. Photo -

Nokia plans to sell its luxury brand Vertu as it faces a tough competition with other smart phone makers to remain the world?s top mobile phone maker, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

The luxury mobile phones are adorned with diamonds, gold and gems and run on the Symbian operating system with prices starting at around 4,000 euros ($5,500) for the Constellation model. Vertu, a Nokia subsidiary, is tied to its parent?s technology with Windows Phone expected to follow, though with a new owner that could change even if the appearance, and engineering, are likely to remain the same.

The Constellation Quest, a luxury smartphone, was introduced in 2010. Despite facing tough competition from Apple’s iPhone and other Andriod-based handsets,?Nokia did not devalue its Vertu brand and stuck with its niche handsets.

Vertu was established by Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia in 1998. The concept of haute-couture mobile telephony was approved by the executive board of Nokia to tap into a niche market of mobile devices with price tags rivalling ultra-expensive luxury watches.
The corporate headquarters of Vertu was later set up in England in 2000 and the first phone, the Vertu Signature, was launched in Paris in 2002.

“Nokia is to sell its luxury subsidiary ? maker of the world’s most expensive mobile phones ? as the once dominant Finnish handset manufacturer overhauls its business in an effort to compete with Apple and other smartphone makers,” the Financial Times reported.

Nokia refused to comment on the report. But the newspaper claimed Goldman Sachs has been appointed to oversee the sell-off of its UK-based Vertu subsidiary, adding talks are still at an early stage.

?We can’t comment on those reports,” Nokia spokesman James Etheridge.

Vertu?s profit, as part of Nokia, isn’t public yet, but the paper estimated an annual revenue somewhere between ?200m and ?300m ($268 million and $402 million) ? which isn?t bad for a company that re-cases mid-range Nokia handsets.?The prices of the handmade phones sold by the British subsidiary could exceed $ 300,000 and these handsets typically include precious metal components.

To keep up with the market profile, Vertu phones have a “concierge” button, which launches a global customised lifestyle assistance service for the usage of priority bookings, recommendations and other exclusive services.

Vertu is currently available at 90 Vertu boutiques in almost 70 countries worldwide.?The potential buyers of the company will have an eye on that service, which endangers customer loyalty and incoming revenue from commissions on booking flights and other similar services.

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