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Nokia’s Former Luxury Smartphone Maker Vertu Sold Again For £50m

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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The future of the luxury smartphone maker is uncertain

Luxury smartphones maker Vertu has been sold for £50 million to Baferton Ltd which is run by an exiled Turkish business man, raising question around Vertu’s future.

According to The Telegraph, Baferton Ltd is a Cyprus-registered firm funded by Hakan Uzan, a member of Turkey’s most controversial families.

Urxan is a person once found in contempt of court in Britain for failing to turn up to a court hearing relating to an accusation made against Uzan of committing fraud against mobile firm Nokia to borrow money to set up a mobile operator which ended up failing.

Ironically, Nokia was the founding company of Vertu.

Vertu’s difficult journey

vertu headerThe luxury smartphones brand, where handsets cost thousands of pounds and come with an exclusive concierge service, ran into financial trouble at Nokia and was subsequently sold to a private equity firm EQT, which then sold Vertu to a Chinese firm called Godin Holdings.

Uzan will become the third owner of Vertu in recent years, but given the Uzan business empire has crumbles somewhat with allegations of backing out of deals with current US President Donald Trump and having assets seized by the Turkish government due to being in opposition with its President Erdogan, Vertu hardly appears to be in a safe pair of hands.

In fact, the exact whereabouts of Uzan are not known, other than the family was granted political asylum by France.

Through a spokesman, Uzan told The Telegraph that: “Vertu is a powerful brand with an acknowledged market niche.”

“I look forward to working with the team and providing the investment to enable Vertu to realise its full potential,” he added.

However, Vertu, which is based in the UK, appears to be in poor health regardless given its most recent financial postings to Companies House dating 2014, revealed thundering losses of £53 million based on sales of £110 million.

Nevertheless, its current chief executive appeared positive for Vertu’s future: “Baferton shares our vision: 1.5 billion smartphones are sold each year and there is demand for a high-quality, exclusive product with associated services. Working with Baferton we’ll be equipped to develop the Vertu business, the brand and the service.”

While Nokia may have failed with Vertu, it is making a comeback into the smartphone market via HMD Nokia, and recently showcases a trio of smartphones and a retro reimagining of the Nokia 3310.