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The Espoo-based company said that although it plans “significant” cuts in operating expenses, it will continue to focus on smartphones as well as cheaper feature phones and intends to expand location-based services.

Nokia announced that private equity group EQT VI had agreed to acquire Vertu, its global luxury phone brand, but that the Finnish company would keep a 10 percent minority shareholding. No financial terms were announced.

The company said it would also overhaul its management team, with two long-time members of its top leadership - Mary McDowell, the head of the struggling mobile phones unit and Niklas Savander, head of the markets sector _ leaving the company at the end of June. Chief marketing officer and brand manager Jerri DeWard, who joined Nokia in January 2011 will also step down.

Chris Weber, the current head of Nokia’s U.S. operations, will take over sales and marketing on July 1.

In April, Nokia announced one of its worst quarterly results ever, blaming tough competition for a (EURO)929 million net loss in the first quarter as sales plunged, especially in the smartphone market. Last year, it was still the world’s top cellphone maker with annual unit sales of some 419 million devices, but in the last quarter of the year it posted a net loss of (EURO)1.07 billion, a marked reverse from the 745 million profit a year earlier.

Boston-based Strategy Analytics said Nokia had significantly lost market share in the first quarter to Samsung, which pushed it out as the world’s largest seller of cellphones by volume, grabbing a 25 percent global market share against Nokia’s 22 percent.

It has fared even worse in the smartphone sector against Samsung and Apple by falling to third place in the first quarter of the year with sales of 12 million units against Samsung’s 44.5 million and Apple’s 35 million.

Nokia is significantly increasing its cost reduction target for devices and services in support of the streamlined strategy announced today,” said CFO Timo Ihamuotila. “With these planned actions, we believe our devices (and) services business has a clear path to profitability. Nokia intends to maintain its strong financial position while proceeding aggressively with actions aimed at creating shareholder value.”

Last year, Nokia announced more than 10,000 layoffs, aimed at cutting operating expenses by (EURO)1 billion ($1.31 billion) by 2013. Thursday’s savings aims come on top of those.


Jari Tanner in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed to this report.