Apple is in negotiations to buy Beats Electronics in a $US3.2 billion deal, according to The Financial Times.
Reporters from Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets have all backed up the story.
The deal could be announced next week, the report says. Apple’s stock was basically flat in after-hours trading.
Beats makes a variety of audio products, including a line of pricey but popular headphones. It also recently launched a streaming music service similar to Spotify called Beats Music.
The company was founded by rapper Dr. Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine.
If the report is true, this would be an odd move for Apple. It never acquires big companies with multibillion-dollar valuations. This would easily be Apple’s largest acquisition ever.
Apple could make particular use of the Beats Music streaming service as it attempts to figure out the streaming media space. iTunes radio, a streaming radio service similar to Pandora, has been panned by critics for its poor track selection. And iTunes Match, which can scan your music library and then let you stream tracks to your Apple devices over the internet, isn’t as robust as music services like Spotify.
As for the headphones, they’re very popular but audiophiles have consistently given them poor reviews.
Beats Electronics has had a rocky investment history. HTC bought a 50.1% stake in the company for $US300 million in 2011 and used the Beats branding and audio technology in its smartphones. But the partnership fizzled out. In July 2012, Beats bought 25% of the company back from HTC for $US150 million. Then Beats spent $US265 million in 2013 to buy the remaining 25%.
Beats raised $US500 million last year from the Carlyle Group, giving it approximately a $US1 billion valuation. If Apple is willing to pay $US3.2 billion, that means Beats has tripled its value in just a few months.