Mainland computer giant Legend Holdings yesterday signed an agreement with Texas Instruments and Chinese electronics firm Xoceco to make mobile handsets and wireless Internet devices. The joint venture, worth 150 million yuan (about HK$140.58 million), ties the three companies in research, development and manufacture of a new range of voice and data products. Texas Instruments will contribute digital signal processors and support for the global system for mobile (GSM) communications and general packet radio service phones, working through a laboratory set up in 1999. Texas Instruments' OMAP processors would equip the handsets for mobile Internet use. Texas Instruments also uses these processors for modems and digital cameras. Television maker Xoceco, also known as Huaxia, will make the phones at its base in Xiamen, where it can produce up to 500,000 handsets a year. Since it began making phones in 1998, the company has sold 510,000 units in China. Legend will lay out 90 million yuan and Xoceco 60 million yuan, largely the value of its production lines. The value of Texas Instruments' contribution was not revealed. The phones will be available by June, entering a market now dominated by four foreign companies - Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson and Siemens. Last year, 46.55 million handsets were sold in China, serving 150 million subscribers. Legend president Yang Yuanqing said he expected domestic brands to take over the market as technologies matured. 'Today's announcement has a great significance for us,' Legend chairman Liu Chuanzhi said yesterday. He said the choice of Texas Instruments and Xoceco was made 'after a lot of discussion and thought'. Representatives of Texas Instruments and Xoceco said they were happy to be working with Legend, which has 30 per cent of China's computer market and mass name recognition among everyday people. 'We've watched Legend's growth, and we're impressed,' Texas Instruments chairman Thomas Engibous said. He said mobile technology 'will play an increasingly important role in the life of Chinese citizens, and Legend will make it happen'. Texas Instruments and Legend also plan to develop a range of short-distance wireless, wireless local area network and next-generation mobile Net access devices. Mr Engibous attributed the handset agreement in part to China's World Trade Organisation entry and United States approval of China's permanent normal trade relations status. Growth in Legend's computer sales in the fourth quarter of last year slowed to a single-digit percentage figure with fewer than 800,000 units sold. This slip prompted speculation that the company would diversify. Contrary to news reports in other media, yesterday's announcement was not related to personal data assistants or hand-held devices other than mobile phones.