Boutique smartphone maker Vertu was apparently sold to a member of an “exiled and secretive Turkish business dynasty”, in a deal worth around $50 million.
According to The Telegraph, Baferton, a Cyprus-registered company, acquired the Vertu business from its current owner, China’s Godin Holdings. Baferton was funded by Hakan Uzan, part of a Turkish family with some history in the mobile industry.
Uzan Group previously owned Telsim, the mobile operator which subsequently became Vodafone Turkey. It became embroiled in legal battles with Motorola and Nokia, when vendor finance deals for network equipment went sour.
The Telegraph said the Uzans also owned banks and a broadcaster, but fell foul of the authorities, with assets then seized. The family received political asylum in France, but “their precise whereabouts are unknown”.
It was reported late last year Vertu was in talks with a new investor, having made cuts to its staff in order to move to a leaner start-up type operation. Vertu started out as a Nokia subsidiary, before first being sold to a private equity firm, and then Godin.
According to Vertu chief executive Gordon Watson, “working with Baferton we’ll be equipped to develop the Vertu business, the brand and the service”.