Business

Apple 'in talks' to buy Beats for $3.2bn

Beats headphones on display
Image caption Beats is best known for its headphones which have been gaining popularity

Technology giant Apple is in talks to buy headphone maker and music-streaming service provider Beats Electronics, according to various media reports.

The reports claim Apple could pay as much as $3.2bn (£1.9bn) and a deal could be announced next week.

If completed, it will be Apple's biggest ever acquisition.

It is being seen as a move by Apple to get a stronger foothold in the phone and music accessories business and bolster its online music offerings.

The two areas are expected to see fast growth in the coming years.

The Financial Times, which was the first to report the talks, cited a source as saying the firms were still negotiating the details.

'Really puzzling'

Beats was founded by music producer Jimmy Iovine and the hip-hop star Dr Dre and until recently was best known for its headphones.

It started a subscription-based music streaming service earlier this year.

However, Apple already has its own iTunes store which is the world's largest music download service. It also launched iTunes Radio last year.

That has made some industry watchers question the move.

James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester, said there was a big overlap of customers between the two firms.

"This is really puzzling," he said. "You buy companies today to get technologies that no one else or customers that no one has.

"They must have something hidden under the hood."

The reported price is also a huge premium on Beats's previous valuation.

Beats was valued at just $1bn after its last funding round in September, which saw it get a $500m investment from the Carlyle Group.

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