Japanese electronics companies NEC, Casio and Hitachi have agreed to merge their mobile-phone operations. The deal could birth Japan's second-largest handset maker by shipments behind Sharp. If all goes as planned, the integration will take place in April next year, and the companies will form a new joint venture, NEC Casio Mobile Communications -- of which NEC will own 66%, with Casio and Hitachi holding 17.34% and 16.66%.

According to research firm BCN, the resulting operation will make up about 20.2% of the market -- which is nothing to sneeze at. The move will leave them trailing Sharp, which holds 21.8% of Japan's mobile phone market, and position them ahead of Panasonic, which accounts for 16.8% of the market. The companies hope the merger will boost capital by $44.1 million to $55.2 million by June 2010, which will increase NEC and Casio's share to 70.74% and 20%, with Hitachi's cut dropping to 9.26%.