China's Lenovo Group is nearing a deal to buy Google's Motorola handset division for close to US$3 billion (NZ$3.65 billion), people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday, buying its way into a heavily competitive US handset market dominated by Apple.
Lenovo is in the final stages of talks to buy the Google division that makes the Moto X and Moto G smartphones, as well as certain patents, the sources said.
A sale of Motorola would mark the end of Google's short-lived foray into making mobile devices and a pullback from its largest-ever acquisition. Google bought the US cellphone giant in 2012 for US$12.5 billion (NZ$15.2 billion) but has struggled to revamp the money-losing business.
It also would mark Lenovo's second major deal on US soil in a week, as it angles to get a foothold in major global computing markets. The Chinese electronics company last week announced a deal to buy IBM's low-end server business for US$2.3 billion (NZ$2.8 billion) in what was China's biggest technology deal thus far.
An announcement could come as soon as Wednesday.
The Chinese firm will use a combination of cash and stock as well as deferred payments to finance the deal with Google, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is not public.
Lenovo is being advised by Credit Suisse Group while Lazard advised Google on the transaction, the people said.
Representatives for Google, Lenovo, Credit Suisse and Lazard did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment.