Vertu was a British-based manufacturer and retailer of luxury handmade mobile phones, established by Finnish mobile-phone manufacturer Nokia in 1998. In October 2012, Nokia sold Vertu to private equity group EQT VI for an unspecified amount, but retained a 10% share. By the end of 2013, the company had around 350,000 customers, and phones were on sale in 500 retail outlets, including 70 run by the company. In 2015, it was announced that EQT had sold its share of Vertu to Godin Holdings, a Hong Kong-based holding company.. In March of 2017 Godin Holdings sold to Baferton Ltd. a Cyprus-based Turkish company. In July of 2017, the new shareholders applied to the Court of England for bankruptcy protection, the company went into voluntary liquidation after plans to save it failed and Vertu Corporation Ltd. was put into liquidation, leaving its residual staff of 200 unpaid and unemployed.. Vertu AK France, is the parent company of Vertu Corporation, through which the Vertu Brand and company continues its business today. In May 2020 the factory and office complex in Church Crookham England, that has been empty since July 2017 was demolished to make way for a retail park.
According to The Economist, the concept was to market phones explicitly as fashion accessories, with the idea "if you can spend $20,000 on a watch, why not on a mobile phone?" Vertu is the brainchild of the Italian Frank Nuovo, former chief designer at Nokia. He proposed and presented the luxury concept to Nokia's board, who eventually accepted it in late 1998. At the time Nokia released their first luxury phone, the 8850. The resulting products called "Vertu" were finally announced in Paris in 2002, and part of a separate subsidiary called Vertu owned by Nokia.
Vertu phones, or "mobile communications instruments" were made in its factories in Church Crookham, Hampshire, England. Handsets were sold through an emphasis on craftsmanship, style and service, rather than mobile phone functions. The business was based in the United Kingdom with offices in New York City, Dubai, Moscow, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Paris and Singapore. In November 2015, Massimiliano Pogliani was replaced by Billy Crotty as Vertu's CEO, who in turn was replaced by Gordon Watson three months later.