Apple is considering a $3.2 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics
Apple is eyeing a $3.2 billion buyout of Beats Electronics, the firm founded by rapper Dr. Dre that makes headphones and other audio products, in what would be Apple's biggest acquisition yet, news reports said. A deal could be
reached as early as next week, but the talks could still founder, the New York Times reported late Thursday, quoting people familiar with the transaction.
The Financial Times, which first broke the story, said Apple would buy not only the Dr. Dre brand of headphones and other sound equipment but also the music streaming service that Beats Electronics launched recently, known as Beats Music.
The deal valued by both newspapers at $3.2 billion would mark the biggest acquisition ever carried out by Apple.
For Apple, whose revenue growth has slowed sharply in the last few years, the deal could signal a drive into streaming music. The company, which only last year released its streaming product, iTunes Radio, has been slow to enter the streaming world, The New York Times said.
A purchase of Beats would also give Apple a hot product and a hot brand. After its enormous successes with the iPhone and iPad, Apple has been under intense pressure from investors to unveil new products, but none has yet been released.
At over $3 billion, the Beats acquisition would be a major departure for Apple, the Times said, adding that Apple favored smaller deals under co-founder Steve Jobs.
However, Tim Cook, who took over as CEO shortly before Jobs died in 2011, has been vocal about the company’s acquisitions and the strategy behind them, the New York Times said. In its most recent earnings call, Cook said Apple had acquired 24 companies in the last 18 months.
Last year the private equity firm Carlyle Group invested $500 million in Beats and valued the company at $1 billion.
So Apple would be paying a large premium if it acquires Beats for $3.2 billion.
The acquisition would follow a series of expensive deals in Silicon Valley: Google has bought smart home developer Nest Labs for $3.2 billion, while Facebook has offered $19 billion for the free mobile messaging service WhatsApp.
Apple, the largest US company in terms of market capitalization, last month announced quarterly earnings that bested expectations by a wide margin.
It also announced a dividend increase, a ramp-up in stock buybacks and a seven-for-one stock split.