Shekhar Thakran, 14 March 2017
- Vertu manufactures premium smartphones for niche segment
- Uzan family has been fighting off accusations from Nokia for several year
- Uzan family reportedly took money from Nokia to set up a mobile operator
In a strange turn of events, Luxury phone manufacturer Vertu, founded by Nokia, has been bought by an exiled Turkish businessman who has earlier been accused of fraud by Nokia itself. Vertu has reportedly been acquired by Baferton, a vehicle funded by the aforementioned Turkish businessman – Hakan Uzan, for a consideration of GBP 50 million (roughly Rs. 402.65 crores).
Vertu, which offers premium smartphones costing up to $40,000, has been acquired by Hakan Uzan-funded vehicle from Godin Holdings, as per a report by Telegraph. As a result of this acquisition, the smartphone manufacturer is now owned by Uzan, whose family witnessed a change in fortune around a decade ago.
In the 1990s, Hakan Uzan's family borrowed money from Nokia and Motorola in order to set up Telsim, a mobile operator, which got itself into financial troubles with the dotcom crash and defaulted on loans, reports Telegraph. This led to allegations that the family had siphoned off cash to pay for private jets and international properties and New York courts even awarded the affected several billion dollars in damages, as per the report. However, the Uzan family is said to be fighting the accusations even currently.
"Vertu is a powerful brand with an acknowledged market niche," Hakan Uzan told The Daily Telegraph via spokesperson about the acquisition. "I look forward to working with the team and providing the investment to enable Vertu to realise its full potential," he reportedly said.
Interestingly, Vertu has seen a change in ownership frequently over the last few years. Godin Holdings acquired the company from EQT, private equity firm which earlier paid around EUR 175 million (roughly Rs. 1,233 crores) to Nokia to acquire Vertu.