Bass Pro to Buy Rival Cabela's in $5.5 Billion Deal

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Bass Pro Shops will buy outdoor retail rival Cabela’s in a deal valued at $5.5 billion.

The two companies announced the deal Monday morning, noting “a driving force behind this agreement is the highly complementary business philosophies, product offerings, expertise, and geographic footprints of the two businesses.”

The 55-year-old Cabela’s has undoubtedly been one of Bass Pro's biggest business rivals. It has 85 retail stores and over 19,000 employees, or “outfitters.” The stores are primarily in the western U.S. and Canada. Cabela's also maintains large catalog and web-based retail operations.

While Bass Pro will own the Cabela’s brand, the company intends to “grow and celebrate the Cabela’s brand and will build on qualities that respective customers love most about Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops.”

Johnny Morris, Bass Pro founder and CEO, will hold a majority stake in the new entity and will lead it. Cabela’s is currently a public company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, but the combined company would be private, as is Bass Pro.

The news release issued Monday morning said Cabela’s is a leader in hunting, while Bass Pro is a leader in fishing. The deal will, of course, include White River Marine Group, a Bass Pro company that makes boats, boat motors, and boat trailers under the brands Tracker Boats, Sun Tracker, Nitro, Tahoe, Regency, Mako, Ranger, Triton, and Stratos.

Cabela’s announced in December that it was exploring “strategic alternatives.” The deal with Bass Pro gives Cabela’s shareholders a 19.2 percent premium above the stock’s close at the end of trading on Friday.

The deal was unanimously approved by Cabela’s board of directors and is slated to close in the first half of 2017, pending shareholder approval and a blessing from the the federal government.

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Here’s what Morris said of the deal:

"Today's announcement marks an exceptional opportunity to bring together three special companies with an abiding love for the outdoors and a passion for serving sportsmen and sportswomen.”

“The story of each of these companies could only have happened in America, made possible by our uniquely American free enterprise system. We have enormous admiration for Cabela’s, its founders and outfitters, and its loyal base of customers.

“We look forward to continuing to celebrate and grow the Cabela’s brand alongside Bass Pro Shops and White River as one unified outdoor family.”

Here’s the statement from Cabela’s CEO Tommy Millner:

“Cabela’s is pleased to have found the ideal partner in Bass Pro Shops. Having undertaken a thorough strategic review, during which we assessed a wide variety of options to maximize value, the board unanimously concluded that this combination with Bass Pro Shops is the best path forward for Cabela’s, its shareholders, outfitters, and customers.

“In addition to providing significant immediate value to our shareholders, this partnership provides a unique platform from which our brand will be extremely well positioned to continue to serve outdoor enthusiasts worldwide for generations to come.”




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