A trio of Japanese electronics firms – Hitachi, Casio and NEC – have announced plans to merge their mobile phone operations in a bid to reduce costs and improve their competitive position in the domestic market. The three companies are relative minnows in the mobile phone market but plan to change this by agreeing to share technology and resources. From 2010 NEC will take a 71% equity stake in the enlarged entity, with Casio owning 20% and Hitachi holding a 9% stake. The tie-up will catapult the group into second position in terms of Japan’s leading mobile phone makers, with analysts predicting more consolidation could follow in the intensely competitive Japanese mobile market. All three vendors have suffered badly during the downturn.