It looks like luxury phone maker, Vertu, has sold off its business again. This is the third time since 2012, when Nokia sold Vertu to a private equity group, EQT. This time round, Vertu is being sold to the descendant of an exiled Turkish businessman, Hakan Uzan.
According to The Telegraph, Baferton Ltd. paid around £50 Million (about RM271.53 million) to acquire the company from its previous owner, Goldin Holdings, a Hong Kong-based company. Baferton Ltd. is a Cyprus-registered vehicle funded by Hakan Uzan. He told The Daily 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.”
So, who is exactly is Hakan Uzan? He is the scion to one of Turkey’s most controversial families, and has been accused of massive fraud by Nokia, the company who founded Vertu. They used to own big businesses including a bank, a string of power plants, several broadcasting companies, and a mobile carrier called Telsim. Telsim was founded in 1994 using money borrowed from Nokia and Motorola. Sadly, several years later, the mobile carrier company hit financial difficulties and defaulted on loans worth US$2.7 billion. Nokia and Motorola sued Telsim and won billions of dollars in damages, but the Uzans continue to dispute the allegations.
The family’s business continued to fall and on 2004, the Turkish government sized more than 200 companies from the Uzan Group. The government then used the money to repay debts totalling to nearly US$5.7 billion. The Telegraph reports that the Uzans received political asylum in France, but their exact locations are unknown.
But whatever their background is, let’s hope that Baferton Ltd’s acquisition will do good for the luxury phone maker. Vertu hasn’t been doing very well, and in the most recent financial report in 2014, the company made a lost of £53 million on sales of £110 million.