Apple Inc. is close to acquiring headphone maker and music-streaming service Beats Electronics LLC for $3.2 billion, in what would be the largest-ever purchase by the iPhone maker, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
A deal would give the world’s most valuable company a stronger foothold in the music-accessories business and would bolster Apple’s online music capabilities. Apple has made a string of smaller acquisitions over the past 18 months under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.
Beats, based in Santa Monica, California, was founded by music-industry insiders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. After gaining popularity for its high-end headphones, the company is expanding and is challenging industry-leader Spotify Ltd. with a music-subscription service called Beats Music.
HTC Corp. used to own a 51 percent stake in Beats, a controlling stake that it purchased for about $300 million. The company sold back 25 percent of Beats in 2012. In September, Carlyle Group LP bought a minority stake in the company.
Sarah Joyce, a spokeswoman for Beats, didn’t immediately respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment. Christine Monaghan, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
The deal discussions were reported earlier today by the Financial Times.