Read all about it. Ares Management LLC took a controlling stake in music-instruments retailer Guitar Center, part of a deal that converted some of the private-equity firm's debt in the retailer into equity, the retailer said. Bain Capital, Guitar Center's former owner, retained partial ownership of the company, along with representation on the board. The Wall Street Journal reported in late February that Ares and Bain Capital were in the final stages of hashing out a deal to swap the Guitar Center debt that Ares owns to equity. Ares had owned the majority of Guitar Center's debt. Guitar Center, a 250-store U.S. chain, had about $1.6 billion in debt, much of it stemming from Bain's $2.1 billion leveraged buyout of the company in 2007. The company was due to pay about $144 million in annual debt payments through 2016 and about $150 million total in 2017 and 2018, according to recent quarterly securities filing. Under the new deal, Guitar Center's total debt was reduced by about $500 million and its annual cash interest expense was cut by over $70 million. In addition to the debt-to-equity exchange between Ares and Bain Capital, Guitar Center said it completed a refinancing of its remaining debt at a lower interest rate and providing greater financial flexibility. Mike Pratt, the retailer's chief executive, said the deal will provide it with the resources to expand its footprint and invest in its business. Besides guitars, the retailer sells amplifiers, percussion instruments, keyboards and audio and recording equipment in stores and online. It also offers repair services and rents out rehearsal and lesson space in many stores.