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Sony Corp. said Thursday it is considering forming an alliance with LM Ericsson of Sweden in the mobile phone business.

But no details have yet been worked out, the high-tech giant said in a statement.

Company sources said the alliance will likely cover a wide range of areas, such as the development, manufacturing and marketing of mobile phones, and aims to extend its reach to major markets in Europe, Japan, other parts of Asia and the United States.

It is also possible that Sony and the major Swedish telecom firm will form a joint venture to develop next-generation mobile phones, the sources said.

A formal announcement on the deal is likely to be made shortly, the sources added.

By forming an alliance with Ericsson, the world’s third-largest mobile phone maker, Sony hopes to catch up with its Japanese rivals, including NEC Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., in the field of mobile phones.

The alliance would allow Ericsson to reduce spending on the costly development of next-generation mobile phones at a time when many European telecom companies see their inventories piling up as the world’s cellphone market is growing much more slowly.

Ericsson is moving to outsource production of its mobile phone handsets to cut costs.

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