China's Lenovo Group is considering a bid for struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper, quoting "people familiar with the matter," said the Chinese electronics company had signed a non-disclosure agreement with BlackBerry that allows it to examine the Canadian company's financial accounts.
BlackBerry could not immediately be reached for comment.
BlackBerry put itself up for sale earlier this year after its BlackBerry 10 operating system and a new line of smartphones failed to gain traction with users. The company is still pushing the platform and has had some limited success, but stands fourth in the market behind Android, Apple's iOS and Windows Phone.
There remains a large number of corporate and government customers using BlackBerry's platform, so any acquisition would likely face close scrutiny from regulators.
That scrutiny could be especially high since Lenovo is based in China. Last year, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee suggested that the use of telecom network equipment produced by two Chinese companies, ZTE and Huawei, posed a national security threat to the U.S.
Two other parties have already expressed an interest in BlackBerry.
One, Fairfax Financial Holdings, has already reached a preliminary US$4.7 billion deal with BlackBerry to buy the company but it has yet to be finalized. Recently Mike Lazaridis, one of the co-founders of BlackBerry, said he is working with a group that could be interested in acquiring the company.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org