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NEC rumored to want in on Casio Hitachi joint venture

The big rumor out of Japan today has NEC locked in heated negotiations with existing joint venture Casio Hitachi Mobile Communications to add itself into the mix -- a JV that's currently a 51 / 49 percent ownership split between Casio and Hitachi, respectively -- with NEC wanting to pick up a total of 50 percent of the combined operation. Japan's one of the more competitive, low-margin mobile markets in the world (just ask Mitsubishi) so it makes sense that a lot of these guys would be looking to consolidate and work on their sourcing scales of economy; if it happens, the rumor has the deal targeted for an April 2010 close that would make the combined operation the second-largest in the market at 20 percent share behind Sharp at 23 percent. Does this mean they'll be more friendly toward the crazy idea of wide-scale North American launches, by chance? Please?

[Via MobileCrunch]