Police seize 40,000 Nokia handsets in St Petersburg

MOSCOW, June 6 (Prime-Tass) -- Police in Russia's St. Petersburg on May 6 seized 40,000 mobile handsets produced by Finland's Nokia that were illegally imported to Russia, the police said, Kommersant Business Daily reported Tuesday.

A source in a large retail chain told the daily that the batch had been imported indirectly for the Teleko company. Until the seizure, Teleko and VVP company, both based in St. Petersburg, had been two of the largest illegal importers on the Russian market and accounted for about one third of the total imports of Nokia handsets, the source said, adding that the value of the seized handsets started from U.S. $350 each, with the total value of the batch amounting to $15 million.

Anton Smirnov, president of the Teleko group of companies, denied that his company was connected with the seized batch, while representatives of VVP did not return any calls, Kommersant said.

Nokia's Russian representative office declined to comment, the Daily reported.

Market experts speculate that both VVP and Teleko have stopped using illegal channels to import Nokia handsets, which may lead to a decrease in Nokia's market share in Russia.

By the end of the year Nokia may lose up to 10% of its market share in Russia, which now amounts to 21%, Eldar Murtazin, an analyst at Mobile Research Group, said, the daily reported. Murtazin expects the price of Nokia handsets to appreciate by 10%-15% over the next few months.

Meanwhile, Mobile Research Group has cut its annual forecast of mobile handset sales in Russia to 25 million units this year from an earlier forecast of 32 million units, the Daily reported.


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