After months of rumors, Nokia has agreed to sell its luxe handset brand Vertu to a European private equity group, in a deal said to be worth around €200 million ($250m).
The company announced on Thursday that it had finalized a deal with the Swedish-headquartered EQT to sell off Vertu, which specializes in limited edition, jewel-encrusted handsets that cost thousands of dollars each.
Although terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, reports recently have pinpointed the size of the agreement. Nokia will retain a 10 percent share in the company.
Vertu is a strange beast. Originally a subsidiary of Nokia, the company — which is based in the U.K. — has lately been operating as an independent division inside the Finnish business. At heart, its Symbian-based handsets are nothing special, but the addition of jewels, precious metals and added extras like a concierge service, have helped them find a niche among the super-wealthy.
But the thing that makes Vertu unique is also the same thing means it was never core to Nokia’s business, and under the strategy to bring more focus to the business under Stephen Elop, it seemed like it could only last so long. It had previously been in talks with another private equity group, Permira, but in the end a bid failed to emerge.
Still, it appeared to be one area of Nokia’s business which was growing — while the rest of the company is still under massive pressure.
And as if to prove that, news of the deal came at the same time as another string of announcements about the company’s future — including more job cuts, a reduced financial outlook and another executive reshuffle.
The company said it would be cutting another 10,000 jobs worldwide, including closing a major manufacturing plant in Finland, as the sales for the second quarter were likely to be lower than expected. It also said that the head of the mobile phones unit, Mary McDowell, would be stepping down, as well as marketing chief Jerri DeVard and supply chain head Niklas Savander. The platform doesn’t seem to have stopped burning yet.