After months of rumor and speculation, Bass Pro Shops has announced it will acquire longtime competitor Cabela’s for about $5.5 billion, which equates to $65.50 per share. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2017, subject to the customary conditions and review.
An open letter penned by Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris has promised that, until that time, both businesses will continue to operate as separate, independent companies. "It is business as usual at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's and there will be no immediate impact to our stores," according to the website statement. An official press release explained that a driving force behind this agreement was the “highly complementary business philosophies, product offerings, expertise and geographic footprints of the two businesses." The combination brings together three of the nation's premier sporting brands: Cabela’s, a leader in hunting; Bass Pro Shops, a leader in fishing; and White River Marine Group, a worldwide leader in boating, which is part of Bass Pro Shops.
Bass Pro Shops has announced that, following the transaction's closing, it intends to "celebrate and grow" the Cabela's brand.
"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," said Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops. "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.”
Since its foundation in 1972, Bass Pro Shops has grown to 99 stores and Tracker Marine Centers located primarily in the eastern part of the U.S. and Canada to include 20,000 team members. The company also operates Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort, lodging over one million visitors a year to the Ozarks.
Tommy Millner, Cabela’s Chief Executive Officer, said, "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."
Cabela's, of course, was founded in 1961 by Dick, Mary and Jim Cabela, and has over 19,000 “outfitters” who operate 85 specialty retail stores spread across the western U.S. and Canada. Over the past 55 years, Cabela’s has built an outdoor empire, offering hunting, camping and fishing gear to millions of customers, both online and in person.