In Shocker, Apple Reportedly Close to Acquiring Beats

In a major surprise, Apple was reported Thursday to be in talks to acquire Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion. Reporter Matthew Garrahan of the Financial Times was the first to report that Apple was “closing in” on the deal.

The deal, should it be finalized, would represent a move by Apple into the standalone headphone market- by acquiring its leader- as well as the likelihood of some combination of Apple and Beats’ existing streaming music services, along with the former MOG service that Beats bought two years ago. It also represents Apple’s largest acquisition ever, as well as a rare move by Apple to acquire an established brand.

Beats was founded in 2008, by rap legend Dr. Dre and longtime music industry figure Jimmy Iovine, and soon kicked off the high-end headphone craze. A majority stake in the company was acquired by HTC in 2011 for $309 million, but Beats bought back a portion of that stake in 2013, and The Carlyle Group bought a minority stake, also last year. The company has branched into both streaming music and other electronics products, including speakers.

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