Los Angeles investment adviser Ares Management LLC is in talks to buy Guitar Center Holdings Inc. from its private equity owners, according to a Tuesday media report.

Ares, the largest debt holder of the Westlake Village musical instrument retailer, is negotiating with Bain Capital LLC of Boston, which took Guitar Center private in 2007, a Wall Street Journal article stated.

Guitar Center is saddled with more than $1.5 billion in debt, thanks in part to the $2.1 billion Bain buyout in 2007, which occurred at the top of the market just prior to the financial crisis.

The news comes less than one year after the retailer appointed Mike Pratt, who had previously led Best Buy Canada Ltd., as its chief executive.

The company, like many brick-and-mortar retailers, has seen its market share decline as more consumers purchase goods online.

Guitar center operates more than 250 stores, where it sells guitars, drums, keyboards, and recording equipment, in addition to offering repair services.

The chain was founded in 1964 in Hollywood and began expanding in 1972 with a second store in San Francisco.

Calls to Ares, Bain and Guitar Center were not answered for comment.

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