Report: Nokia asks Goldman Sachs to sell off luxury Vertu unit

Nokia is preparing to offload its luxury handset unit Vertu as it continues to overhaul its business structure, according to a Financial Times report.

Vertu's Boucheron 150

According to the report, which cited unnamed sources, Nokia appointed Goldman Sachs to oversee the sale of its UK-based subsidiary, which launched its first handset in 2002. While Nokia has refused to comment on these reports, insiders believe that the sale process has only just started and no value has been put on the unit. The annual revenues generated by Vertu are estimated as between €200 million and €300 million.

Nokia has said this year that it intends to reduce non-IFRS operating expenses in its key devices and services business by €1 billion for the full year 2013 in comparison to the full year 2010

The Symbian-based Vertu handsets, usually garnished with expensive gemstones, start at around €4,000 for the Constellation model rising to twice this price for more elaborate models. The phones are known for their "concierge" button, which launches a global bespoke lifestyle assistance service providing priority bookings, recommendations and other exclusive services. Vertu has more than 600 points of sale around the world, including more than 90 Vertu boutiques in almost 70 countries worldwide.

According to a report in Wireless Federation, the Vertu unit is said to make high profit margins and is the dominant supplier of luxury handsets in Europe. Analysts believe that, apart from private equity firms, some of the more established luxury brands may also be interested in acquiring Vertu based on the potential for cross-selling.

For more:
- see this Financial Times article
- see this Wireless Federation article
- see this AFP article

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