By Juro Osawa
TOKYO—NEC /zigman2/quotes/205173342/delayed JP:6701 -1.84% Corp., Casio Computer /zigman2/quotes/202492162/delayed JP:6952 -0.53% Co. and Hitachi Ltd. said Tuesday they now expect to integrate their mobile phone handset businesses on June 1, pushing back the already delayed merger date because of overseas antitrust reviews.
But analysts said the delay doesn't suggest the merger will not go ahead.
"We haven't experienced any conflicts or disagreements with overseas authorities," said an NEC spokesman. "We are simply waiting for a response, and it's just that their reviewing process is longer than we had initially expected," he added.
NEC declined to specify which country is still pursuing antitrust reviews.
Mizuho Investors Securities analyst Yuichi Ishida said that the delay is unlikely to spur market concerns that the integration won't go through. "It's taking longer than expected, but should eventually go through, so this won't be particularly negative," he said.
In late February, the three companies said they would postpone the integration by about a month from the originally planned April date, also citing overseas antitrust reviews.
The new joint venture, NEC Casio Mobile Communications, will be Japan's second-largest handset maker by shipments after Sharp /zigman2/quotes/203224600/delayed JP:6753 +0.48% Corp. The three companies are aiming to pool their resources to expand into promising overseas markets such as China, as a saturated domestic market and shrinking population force Japanese companies to seek growth elsewhere.
By the fiscal year ending March 2013, the NEC-Casio-Hitachi alliance is seeking to sell 12 million handsets globally—seven million in Japan and five million overseas—the companies said when they first announced the integration plan in September.
The new joint venture's overseas strategy will be focused on the U.S. market, where the existing joint venture between Casio and Hitachi already supplies products to Verizon Wireless.
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