UPDATE 1-Nokia in talks to sell luxury Vertu unit-source

Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:06am EDT

LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) - Cellphone maker Nokia 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 were at an advanced stage on a possible sale which would raise about 200 million euros ($265 million).

Vertu's cellphones can feature crystal displays and sapphire keys, costing more than 200,000 pounds ($320,000) 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, d eclined 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 s aying Goldman Sachs 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.

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