Apollo Global Management LLC may soon change the status of PetSmart Inc. to privately held from publicly traded through a leveraged buyout in the area of $8 billion, according to both Bloomberg News and the New York Post, which each cited people with knowledge of the negotiations.

The petcentric specialty-retail company has about 99.87 million shares outstanding, and its equity price closed at $77.67 Friday, so its market capitalization is around $7.76 billion. Accordingly, an Apollo acquisition of PetSmart would be a bigger LBO than the Blackstone Group LP purchase of Gates Global LLC for $5.40 billion in July, Bloomberg News said.

Barclays PLC, Citigroup Inc. and other banks have agreed to arrange $6.25 billion in debt financing, according to people briefed on the talks cited by the New York Post.

The negotiations between Apollo, based in New York, and PetSmart, headquartered in Phoenix, are at a late stage, one source who requested anonymity told Bloomberg News. And an agreement could be announced very soon, the New York Post reported. Neither a representative of Apollo nor representatives of PetSmart would comment on a potential deal, Bloomberg said.

PetSmart announced Aug. 19 it would explore strategic alternatives for the company to maximize value for shareholders and that these alternatives would encompass a possible sale of the firm, which has about 54,000 employees in about 1,387 pet stores in the U.S. and Canada. It hired JP Morgan Securities LLC and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to assist in its exploration of alternatives.

Encouraging this process in recent months has been PetSmart’s two largest institutional investors -- Jana Partners LLC in New York and Longview Asset Management LLC in Chicago -- as Bloomberg News reported.