Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo is ramping up its mobile strategy in a big way by buying back a mobile phone business that it sold last year whilst reportedly partnering on a device with the country’s largest online retailer, Taobao. The world’s fourth-largest PC maker has agreed to pay US$200 million in cash and shares to buy Lenovo Mobile Communication Technology Ltd. from investors including a unit of Hony Capital, the private-equity company controlled by the PC maker’s parent, Legend Holdings Ltd. That compares with the US$100 million Lenovo Group agreed to sell the mobile phone company for in January 2008. “The Directors now consider that it is appropriate to move aggressively to capture the opportunity in the mobile Internet business,” the company said in a statement. Lenovo joins other PC makers including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Taiwan’s Acer and Asustek that have launched handsets in their efforts to diversify their product offering and offer devices that generate higher margins. Lenovo Mobile claims to rank third in China’s mobile handset market by shipments.
Meanwhile Reuters reports that Lenovo Mobile has struck a partnership with China’s largest online retailer to tap into rising demand for mobile shopping. The phone, which will be preloaded with Taobao applications, will reportedly enable users to shop wirelessly and will be launched within a month. Taobao is owned by Alibaba Group, which is 40 percent owned by US search giant Yahoo. Alibaba Group is also parent of China’s largest e-commerce website Alibaba.com.