NEC and Lenovo are already joined at the hip in the PC business, and rumors that the two will soon be smartphone partners as well continue to gather steam. Lenovo confirmed that it's started "preliminary negotiations with a party in connection with a potential joint venture transaction," and while it didn't name names, Japanese media sources and Reuters are claiming that it's NEC. Lenovo's the number
two three smartphone vendor in China but doesn't have much of a presence elsewhere, and NEC, while a leader in Japanese handset sales, is still in a "difficult state," according to the company. Lenovo has the cash it needs and hasn't been shy about plans to expand its mobile business, so a relationship with NEC would make sense, if true -- and could help Lenovo realize those ambitions more quickly.
Update: Lenovo's Milko van Duijl has now also told The Wall Street Journal that the company is "in talks with many people" about a possible partnership, although he declined to comment specifically on reports of a deal with NEC.