Japanese electronics manufacturer NEC is in talks with Lenovo to sell off its mobile phone business, cutting its losses after two years of red ink from the division. Reports from Nikkei, confirmed by Reuters sources, indicate the two companies — already partners in a joint venture to produce PCs in Japan — are in negotiations.

NEC is also reportedly talking with domestic buyers

The mobile phone business in question is actually a joint venture with Casio, of which NEC controls 70 percent. NEC is also reportedly talking with domestic buyers, but no names have been named. According to a statement, NEC hasn’t "discounted any partners in negotiations, including domestic firms." The company’s conventional handsets are still produced at its own factory in Saitama, Japan, while it contracts out its smartphone production. The brand might not ring out internationally as a top phone maker, but its dual-screened Medias W is one of the most interesting designs we've seen in recent memory.

NEC’s phone business is relatively small (just 6 percent of the Japanese market — a quarter of its 2001 market share, according to analysts), but until recently the company still saw it as a worthwhile endeavor. The news of another Japanese firm exiting the mobile business echoes Panasonic’s pulling out of the European mobile market, and the recent travails of Sharp, which has had to rely on investments from foreign companies like Samsung, Qualcomm, and, it hopes, Hon Hai, to meet its financial obligations.