The British manufacturer and retailer of extremely high-end luxury smartphones, Vertu, was just sold to Baferton Ltd, a Cyprus company owned by exiled tycoon Hakan Uzan for about $61 million. The Vertu legacy founded in 1998 and owned by Finnish mobile-phone maker, Nokia. In 2012, Nokia sold Vertu to a private equity group EQT VI for an undisclosed amount of money but retained a 10-percent share. In 2015, it was sold to a Hong Kong-based holding company, Godin Holdings, and now Baferton is its third buyer and fourth owner.
Vertu’s existence was to design and manufacture a smartphone for the wealthy and famous with its most expensive model costing close to $50,000 with an average selling price of about $6,000. Even at those prices by the end of 2013, the company had around 350,000 customers, 500 retail outlets in 66 countries, including 70 run by the company. By the year 2015, Vertu had sold about 450,000 phones, so while this is an insane price to pay for a smartphone, there is a market for them around the world. What is more insane is that Vertu phones do not even run the latest and greatest processors or GPUs, nor have large amounts of RAM or memory and they are usually running an older version of Android and no guarantee of a software update to a newer version. Buyers of these phones are collectors or people that just want to make an impressive phone call at a party or international function. They look beautiful and are made from titanium, with exotic leathers, including crocodile or ostrich, and adorned with precious jewels or diamonds. If you want to spend more money, you can even get a Vertu made from gold.
Vertu has had trouble grabbing profits in the world of smartphones – however, Gordon Watson, Vertu’s chief executive said, “Baferton shares our vision: 1.5 billion smartphones are sold each year, and there is demand for a high-quality, exclusive product with associated services. Working with Baferton, we’ll be equipped to develop the Vertu business, the brand and the service.” Besides the extremely expensive device, as a customer, you get an on-demand concierge service to help you answer any questions you may have concerning your device or finding you help on just about any topic. If you live in the US and are dying to pick up a Vertu, there are three Vertu Boutiques located on Madison Avenue in New York City, Wynn Las Vegas resort, and on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California.