Nokia in talks to sell luxury Vertu unit -source

LONDON Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:09am BST

Illustration picture shows Nokia logo on used cell phone, in Zurich, April 30, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Illustration picture shows Nokia logo on used cell phone, in Zurich, April 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

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LONDON (Reuters) - Cellphone maker Nokia (NOK1V.HE) is in talks to sell its UK luxury subsidiary Vertu, which hand makes some of the world's most expensive mobile phones, a source familiar with the company's strategy said on Monday.

Earlier the Financial Times reported that talks with private equity group Permira PERM.UL were at an advanced stage on a possible sale which would raise about 200 million euros (162 million pounds).

Vertu's cellphones can feature crystal displays and sapphire keys, costing more than 200,000 pounds due to the precious metal components.

Nokia, which had its credit rating cut to "junk" status by Standard & Poor's last week, first signalled its intention to sell Vertu in December, and recently said it plans to dispose of "non-core assets".

Nokia, once the world's dominant mobile phone provider, declined to comment, while Vertu and Permira were not available for comment.

The FT report, published on its website on Sunday, cited people familiar with the talks as saying Goldman Sachs (GS.N) was advising on the possible sale, but said the outcome was not yet certain.

EQT, the Northern European private equity group, has also been in talks about buying the company, although those close to the process, cited by the FT, say that these are not progressing at this stage.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan in London and Ritsuko Ando in Helsinki; Editing by Diane Craft and David Stamp)

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