Monday, March 13, 2017

A mysterious Turkish exile just bought luxury phone brand Vertu

"Rich Texan" may have just done an agency deal.*
From The Next Web:
If you’ve never heard of Vertu before, that’s okay. The British smartphone manufacturer is hardly a household name. It makes phones exclusively for the rich and gilded, with handsets regularly retailing for several thousand dollars.
And now, it has a new owner. The Cyprus-based Baferton Ltd just acquired it in a deal valued at $60 million, or roughly £50 million.

Baferton is headed by Turkish businessman Hakan Uzan – a man who, according to The Daily Telegraph, has a rather murky history.

During the 1990’s the Uzan family borrowed money from Nokia and Motorola to launch a mobile network called Telsim. But things quickly went awry, per the Telegraph.
Telsim hit financial trouble in the dotcom crash and defaulted on the loans, triggering claims that the family had siphoned off cash to pay for private jets and international properties. New York courts awarded multibillion-dollar damages to Nokia and Motorola over a decade ago but the Uzans continue to dispute the allegations.
In 2002, Hakan Urzan was found in contempt of court after he failed to appear at a hearing in relation to the charges, for which he was sentenced to 15 months in absentia.

The legal woes weren’t simply limited to him, either. In relation to the fraud allegations, the Turkish authorities seized the family’s assets, which at one point included a bank, a broadcaster, and Telsim, along other companies.

As a result of their sudden loss of financial standing, Hakan and his brother Cem were sued by now-US president Donald Trump, after they backed out of a deal to buy apartments in Trump Tower.
Since then, the Urzan family has lived outside of the country, having received political asylum in France.

It’s not clear why Urzan bought Vertu. The company has traded hands several times in the past decade....MORE
*Followers of The Simpsons may remember Rich Texan for such lines as:
– Rich Texan–  “Son, I represent a group of oil tycoons who make foolish purchases.  We already bought us a stained glass bathrobe and the world’s fattest racehorse.  Now we need your ice man.”
And why do I bring up Mr. Richard Texan aka "Shady Bird Johnson"?

Back in January it was suggested I might want to post the Verge's "Vertu made another phone for the rich and tasteless" and upon receiving nothing but laughter when I asked why it was postworthy, I moved on.
Here are some of the headlines that Vertu has garnered over the years:

Vertu's New Android: Handmade in England, Dog Ugly and $10,000
Vertu Ti: This is the ugly and expensive Android phone oil barons want
Vertu Dragon Smartphone: Retro Ugly For Rich People - TechnoBuffalo
Vertu's New Ridiculously Expensive Phone Finally Isn't Ridiculously ...
Sep 24, 2015 - Vertu's super-premium phones have always been a curiosity on the ... Why are these super expensive senseless phones always ugly as shit?
And now I understand the guffaws. It was a set-up.
Nimbly avoided, thanks to apathy.

Apathy, friend of the investor. And the blogger.