Apple Inc. reportedly is looking to acquire Dr. Dre’s Beats Electronics, the Santa Monica maker of premium headphones that earlier this year launched a subscription-music service.

The potential $3.2 billion deal would be Apple's largest acquisition ever, according to media reports Thursday. Beats had estimated revenue of about $1.2 billion last year.

Beats was founded by hip-hop music mogul Andre Young, better known by his stage name Dr. Dre, and Jimmy Iovine. Investors include Vivendi's Universal Music Group, where Iovine is a senior executive. Carlyle Group and Access Industries Inc. also are large investors.

Beats By Dr. Dre headphones cost several hundred dollars a pair, and the company in January launched a $9.99-a-month subscription music service. Though it has a free streaming-music service called iTunes Radio, Apple currently lacks a subscription service and its smart phones and music players typically come with earbuds offering lesser-quality sound.

The Silicon Valley Business Journal reported that the deal would make Dre the first billionaire from the rap world, putting him ahead of Sean “Puffy” Combs, whose net worth is estimated at about $700 million.

Previous Los Angeles Business Journal coverage:

It’s Up Stream At Beats Music

Headphones Maker Sounds Out Culver City Move

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