Last year HTC made waves when it spent $300 million to acquire a majority stake in audio brand Beats — but things have now flipped back around, with HTC announcing that it sold 25 percent of Beats' shares back to the audio manufacturer for $150 million. Under the agreement, which HTC and Beats describe as a "realignment" that "provides Beats with more flexibility for global expansion," HTC will remain the single largest outside shareholder, with approximately 25 percent ownership of the company; Beats now controls approximately 75 percent. HTC will retain exclusivity in mobile devices, however, and the two companies say they will continue to work together on future products, with a joint marketing campaign planned for later this year.
The 2011 acquisition saw HTC immediately begin bundling Beats headphones with its devices, an arrangement that ended this past April. At the time, HTC's Martin Fichter told CNET that "an accessory like the headphone doesn't factor in when someone is buying a smartphone." Despite the exclusivity agreement, it's hard not to see this realignment as an additional example of that same sentiment. Then again, with Beats snatching up MOG earlier this year, it could be a matter of Beats wanting to control its own destiny moving forward as well.