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Finnish telecoms equipment maker Nokia said late Monday it was looking at re-entering the mobile phone market by striking a licensing deal with another firm.

"The right path back to mobile phones for Nokia is through a brand-licensing model," the company said in a statement.

"That means identifying a partner that can be responsible for all of the manufacturing, sales, marketing and customer support," it added.

The group "would work closely" with its partner to "guide the design and technology differentiation," it said.

Nokia was the world's top mobile phone maker between 1998 and 2011 but was overtaken by South Korean rival Samsung after failing to respond to the rapid rise of smartphones.

The Finnish company sold its handset to Microsoft in 2014 for some $7.2 billion, which dropped using the Nokia name on Lumia smartphones.

Last week, Microsoft announced plans to cut 7,800 jobs and write down the value of its struggling mobile phone division.

A new Nokia handset could hit the market at the end of 2016 at the earliest as Microsoft holds the rights to the Nokia brand for mobile phones until then.

Chief executive Rajeev Suri had hinted at a return to the mobile phone market in an interview with a German business monthly last month.