Rumor Mill: Nokia close to selling luxury Vertu unit for $265M

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is close to selling its luxury Vertu unit to private equity firm Permira in a deal that could net the struggling Finnish handset vendor around $265 million, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Nokia offers a range of expensive Symbian phones through its Vertu line.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said that Nokia is looking to dump non-core assets like Vertu in a bid to turn around its devices business. Permira would add Vertu to a portfolio of luxury and tech brands its owns, including Hugo Boss and Valentino. Representatives from all of the companies declined to comment, according to the FT, which reported that Goldman Sachs is advising Nokia on the sale.

This is not the first time a sale of Vertu has been brought up. A Financial Times report from December said that Nokia had advised Goldman to begin looking into a sale of the unit, which is an independently managed subsidiary Nokia started in 1998.

The Symbian-based Vertu handsets, usually garnished with expensive gemstones, start at around $5,300 for the Constellation model and rise to twice that 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.

In the big scheme of Nokia's finances, a sale of Vertu will not help as much as Nokia's ongoing reduction in operating expenses for its devices business. Overall, Nokia's sales fell 29 percent to $9.6 billion in the first quarter. Sales in Nokia's key devices and services businesses dropped 40 percent to $5.55 billion, and its smartphone sales plunged 52 percent to $2.22 billion.

For more:
- see this FT article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Forbes article

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